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Parenting advice: Turn off TV when young kids are present

Author John Thompson
Submitted 16-07-2008

It can be tempting for moms and dads to put kids down in front of the TV while they get on with other things, but experts warn against this.

Pediatricians suggest that children under the age of two should not watch any television, as this can disrupt their playing and learning.

Now, researchers at the University of Massachusetts have found that even having a TV on in the background can impede at child’s development, something that happens in three-quarters of American homes with young children.

They looked at 50 children aged between one and three as they played with their parent for an hour – during half of which a TV was on in the background.

It was revealed that when the television was on, children played for significantly shorter periods of time and focused less of their attention on the task at hand.

Lead author of the study Marie Evans Schmidt commented: "Background TV, as an ever-changing audiovisual distractor, disrupts children’s efforts to sustain attention to ongoing play behaviors."

Her parenting advice was for moms and dads to "limit their young children’s exposure to background television".

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, kids who watch a lot of television are more likely to be overweight, read less and do badly in school.