Like the sorcerer of old, the television set casts its magic spell, freezing speech and action, turning the living into silent statues so long as the enchantment lasts. The primary danger of the television screen lies not so much in the behavior it produces - although there is danger there - as in the behavior it prevents: The talks, the games, the family festivals, and the arguments through which much of the child's learning takes place and through which his character is formed. Turning on the television set can turn off the process that transforms children into people.  - Urie Bronfenbrenner


In this digitized world, do we want to raise a generation of children who are either bored or anxious if they're not in front of a screen? - Dr. Susan Linn






  "Many parents want to curb their children's TV time, but aren't sure how to go about it, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The AAP researchers offered these suggestions:" - Life123 


  "Limit the amount of total entertainment screen time to <1 to 2 hours per day. Discourage screen media exposure for children <2 years of age. Keep the TV set and Internetconnected electronic devices out

of the child’s bedroom." - AAP Policy (Oct 2013)  and  CNet (Oct 2013)


"This updated policy statement provides further evidence that media—both foreground and background—have potentially negative effects and no known positive effects for children younger than 2 years. Thus, the AAP reaffirms its recommendation to discourage media use in this age group. This statement also discourages the use of background television intended for adults when a young child is in the room."  -  AAP Policy Statement (Nov 2011)  and  Press Release (Nov 2011)  and  MedPageToday (Oct 2011)  and  The New York Times (Oct 2011)  and  Science Daily (Oct 2011)  and  Live Science (Oct 2011)


"For those under 2 years, screen time (e.g., TV, computer, electronic games) is not recommended. For children 2-4 years, screen time should be limited to under one hour per day; less is better."  -  Canadian Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines   and   Sedentary Behaviour Research Network (July 2011)


Note, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends "Pediatricians should urge parents to avoid television viewing for children under the age of 2 years. Although certain television programs may be promoted to this age group, research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant care givers (eg, child care providers) for healthy brain growth and the development of appropriate social, emotional, and cognitive skills. Therefore, exposing such young children to television programs should be discouraged." - AAP Policy Statement (Aug 1999)


Children and Watching TV - American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (March 2001)


"Child care settings limiting screen time, including television, cell phone, or digital media, for preschoolers (aged two-five) to less than 30 minutes per day for children in half-day programs or less than one hour per day for those in full-day programs. Health care providers counseling parents and children’s caregivers to permit no more than a total of two hours per day of screen time, including television, cell phone, or digital media, for preschoolers, including time spent in child care settings and early childhood education programs." - Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (June 2011)






Cognitive Effects of TV



"Angeline Lillard and Jennifer Peterson, both of the University of Virginia's department of psychology, wanted to see whether watching fast-paced television had an immediate influence on kids' executive function -- skills including attention, working memory, problem solving and delay of gratification that are associated with success in school. Television's negative effect on executive function over the long term has been established, the researchers wrote Monday in the journal Pediatrics, but less is known about its immediate effects. To test what those might be, Lillard and Peterson randomly assigned 60 4-year-olds to three groups: one that watched nine minutes of a fast-paced, "very popular fantastical cartoon about an animated sponge that lives under the sea;" one that watched nine minutes of slower-paced programming from a PBS show "about a typical U.S. preschool-aged boy;" and a third group that was asked to draw for nine minutes with markers and crayons. Immediately after their viewing and drawing tasks were complete, the kids were asked to perform four tests to assess executive function.  Unfortunately for the denizens of Bikini Bottom, the kids who watched nine minutes of the frenetic high jinks of the "animated sponge" scored significantly worse than the other kids." -  Los Angeles Times (Sept 2011)  and  Pediatrics (Sept 2011)  and Medical News Today (Sept 2011)  and  USA Today (Sept 2011)  and  Science Daily (Sept 2011)  and  Mail Online (Sept 2011)  and  PsychCentral (Sept 2011)  and  Earth Sky (Sept 2011)  and  Obesity Panacea (Sept 2011)  and  The New York Times (Sept 2011)  and  San Francisco Chronicle (Sept 2011)  and  Psypost (Sept 2011)  and  sott.net (Sept 2011)  and  Psychology Today (Sept 2011)  and  Live Science (Sept 2011)  and  US News Health (Sept 2011)  and  MedPage Today (Sept 2011)


"Christakis's mice were divided into two groups, one in a normal environment and one in which the mice were overstimulated. After the first 10 days of the mice's lives, the overstimulated mice's cartons were bombarded with audio from cartoons and flashing lights that were in rhythm with the audio for six hours a night. Their mothers also remained in the cartons with them. Then they tested cognition, behavior, and activity in the mice. They found that the overstimulated mice were hyperactive, took more risks, and had learning problems.” - Medical Daily (July 2012)  and  Scientific Reports (July 2012)  and  Seattle Mama Doc (Jan 2012)  and  You Tube (Dec 2011)  and  NCBI (July 2012)  and  International Business News (Feb 2012)  and  Neuro Research Project (July 2012)  and  tvSmarter Blog (March 2014) 


"Results: Performance varied according to experimental group and age. In particular, we found that children's orienting networks and error rates can be affected by a very short exposure to television. Conclusion: Just 3.5 min of watching television can have a differential effect on the viewer depending on the pacing of the film editing. These findings highlight the potential of experimentally manipulating television exposure in children and emphasize the need for more research in this previously under-explored topic." - Acta Pædiatrica (June 2009)


"Middle-class 6-year-olds matched for sex, age, pretest WPPSI IQ, and TV-viewing time were blindly assigned to a restricted TV-viewing group or an unrestricted group. Restricted parents halved subjects' previous TV-viewing rates and interacted 20 min./day with subjects for a 6-week period. Unrestricted TV parents provided similar interactions but did not limit viewing. Results tentatively suggest that TV restriction enhanced Performance IQ, reading time, and reflective Matching Familiar Figures scores." - Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology (Winter 1980)


"Subsequent work by Malach and colleagues has found that, when we're engaged in intense "sensorimotor processing" - and nothing is more intense than staring at a massive screen with Dolby surround sound while wearing 3-D glasses - we actually inhibit these prefrontal areas. The scientists argue that such "inactivation" allows us to lose ourself in the movie" - Frontal Cortex (Jan 2010)


"There was greater frontal lobe activation in children when they were engaged in a picture book reading task with their mothers, as opposed to passive viewing of a videotape in which the story was read to them. Social and verbal engagement of the mother in reading picture books with her young child may mediate frontal brain activity in the child." -  Pubmed (Oct 2009) 


"The EEG studies similarly show less mental stimulation, as measured by alpha brain-wave production, during viewing than during reading."  -  Scientific American (Feb 2002)






Learning Language


One of the most important skills that very young children learn is how to understand and speak their family language.


It turns out that the more a parent and/or caregivers speaks to a child, the greater the chance that that child will have a better vocabulary and other language skills by age 3. And that the child's vocabulary and other language skills at age 3, were predictive of his or her vocabulary and other language skills by age 9-10.


"In this groundbreaking study, Betty Hart and Todd Risley entered the homes of 42 families from various socio-economic backgrounds to assess the ways in which daily exchanges between a parent and child shape language and vocabulary development. Their findings were unprecedented, with extraordinary disparities between the sheer number of words spoken as well as the types of messages conveyed. After four years these differences in parent-child interactions produced significant discrepancies in not only children’s knowledge, but also their skills and experiences with children from high-income families being exposed to 30 million more words than children from families on welfare. Follow-up studies showed that these differences in language and interaction experiences have lasting effects on a child’s performance later in life." - Rice University Center for Education (2012)  and  Commercial Appeal (Dec 2008)  and  Evidence Based Mommy (June 2010)  and  University of Oregon


"From our preschool data we had been confident that the rate of vocabulary growth would predict later performance in school; we saw that it did. For the 29 children observed when they were 1-2 years old, the rate of vocabulary growth at age 3 was strongly associated with scores at age 9-10 on both the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-Revised (PPVT-R) of receptive vocabulary (r = .58) and the Test of Language Development-2: Intermediate (TOLD) (r = .74) and its subtests (listening, speaking, semantics, syntax)." - American Educator (Spring 2003)






Do Young Children Learn Language From Television?


"When additional tests were conducted after six weeks, there was no evidence children learned the words specifically highlighted in the DVDs, and watching the DVDs was unrelated to measures of general language learning. However, children whose parents reported that they began watching infant DVDs at an early age scored lower on a test of vocabulary knowledge." - Science Daily (March 2010)


"American infants and toddlers watch TV an average of two hours a day, and much of the programming is billed as educational. A new study finds that children under age 3 learn less from these videos that we might think—unless there's an adult present to interact with them and support their learning." - Science Daily (Sept 2009)


"The results of this study have important implications for language acquisition. It indicates exposure to language via television is insufficient for teaching language to very young children. To learn new words, children must be actively engaged in the process with responsive language teachers." - Science Daily (July 2007)


"Developmental psychologists say the Vanderbilt research offers an intriguing clue to a phenomenon called the “video deficit”. Toddlers who have no trouble understanding a task demonstrated in real life often stumble when the same task is shown onscreen. They need repeated viewings to figure it out." - Indian Express (Sept 2006)


"Troseth’s team think this ‘video deficit’ is caused by the fact young children quickly learn to distinguish between video and reality, predisposing them to ignore information presented by someone on TV." - BPS Research (May 2006)






More TV = Less Talking With Young Children = Language Delay


"For every hour in front of the TV, parents spoke 770 fewer words to children, according to a study of 329 children, ages 2 months to 4 years, in the June issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Adults usually speak about 941 words an hour... Parents may not realize how little they interact with children when a TV is on, Christakis says. A mother may think she's engaged with a baby because they're both on the floor playing blocks. But if a TV is on in the background, the two of them talk much less, he says." - USA Today (June 2009)  and  MedPage Today (June 2009)


"We've known that television exposure during infancy is associated with language delays and attentional problems, but so far it has remained unclear why," said Christakis. "This study is the first to demonstrate that when the television is on, there is reduced speech in the home. Infants vocalize less and their caregivers also speak to them more infrequently."  - Science Daily (June 2009) Via Unplug Your Kids


"Even infants zone out in front of the television, and it turns out this translates into less time interacting with parents and possible lags in language development, a new study finds." - Live Science (June 2009)


"This study compared the amount and style of maternal communication with toddlers and preschoolers while mother–child pairs watched TV, read books, and played with toys. We found that mother–child communication was less frequent and less verbally responsive when dyads viewed TV compared with when they read books, and in many cases, when they played with toys. In addition, some forms of maternal responsiveness were positively associated with indicators of youngsters' emergent literacy. Mothers' use of directive language was negatively related to emergent literacy. These findings suggest that TV co-viewing produces a relatively detrimental communication environment for young children, while shared book reading encourages effective mother–child exchanges." - Wiley (Sept 2011)  and  Psychology Today (Oct 2011)






More TV = Language Delay


"Analyses of the recordings revealed that each hour of additional television exposure was linked with a decrease of 770 words (7 percent) the child heard from an adult during the recording session. Hours of television were also associated with a decrease in the number and length of child vocalizations and the back and forth between the child and an adult (called a conversational turn)." - Live Science (June 2009)


"The study, by Professor Dimitri Christakis from the Seattle Children’s Research Institute in America, looked at 78 studies published over the past 25 years... A 2008 study in Thailand, also published in Acta Paediatrica, found that if children under 12 months watched TV for more than two hours a day they were six times more likely to have delayed language skills." - Daily Express (Jan 2009)  and Science Daily (Jan 2009)   and  E! Science News (Jan 2009)


"Watching TV programmes or DVDs aimed at infants can actually delay language development, according to a number of studies. For example, a 2008 Thai study published in Acta Paediatrica found that if children under 12 months watched TV for more than two hours a day they were six times more likely to have delayed language skills. Another study found that children who watched baby DVDs between seven and 16 months knew fewer words than children who did not." - Scientific Blogging (Jan 2009)


"The scientists found that for every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants understood an average of six to eight fewer words than infants who did not watch them." - Science Daily (Aug 2007)  and  Science Now (Aug 2007)


"Can the noise level inside your house actually make it harder for your baby to learn to talk? Researchers now say turning down the TV can actually help your child find their voice faster."  -  Ivanhoe (Sept 2005)


"Children under the age of three who are allowed to watch too much television have below-average reading abilities by the time they are six, a new study claims." - Telegraph (Nov 2005)  and  PubMed (July 2005)






More TV = Developmental Delay


"Looking at over 1,300 children in a longitudinal study researchers found those children who watched increased amounts of television when they were 29 months old, had "reduced jumping ability in second grade and bigger waist circumferences in fourth grade." Additionally, other research has shown increased television consumption is "associated with less engagement in classroom activities, less weekend exercise and a greater chance of being picked on by classmates in fourth grade." Aside from this, more TV also correlates with increased waist size." -  Discovery News (July 2012) 


"Babies who watched 60 minutes of TV daily had developmental scores one-third lower at 14 months than babies who weren't watching that much TV." -  Yahoo Health (Dec 2010)  and  US News Health (Dec 2010)  and  Daily Mail (Dec 2010)






More TV = More Behavioral Problems


"The preschoolers who had TVs in their bedrooms or who were exposed to lots of background TV did poorer on the tests assessing theory of the mind, even after the researchers factored in controls for age and socioeconomic status of the parents."  -  Rochester Home Page (Nov 2013)  and  EurekAlert (Nov 2013)  and  Psychology Today (Nov 2013)


"The control group continues watching their usual cartoon fare, many of them violent, like “Road Runner” or “Scooby Doo.” Families in the intervention group are counseled to watch a cartoon fare described as pro-social and educational like “Dora the Explorer” and as neither violent nor pro-social, like “Curious George.” They agree to adhere to this media diet for six months, with a follow-up after a year."  -  Psychology Today (July 2013)  and  Pediatrics (March 2013)


"Five year-olds who watch TV for three or more hours a day are increasingly likely to develop antisocial behaviours, such as fighting or stealing by the age of seven, indicates research published online in Archives of Disease in Childhood."  -  Science Daily (March 2013)  and  The Atlantic (March 2013)


"What your kids watch on TV can affect how well they sleep, a new study suggests.

Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study found that when parents intervened in their kids’ media diet -- reducing exposure to violent and age-inappropriate content and replacing it with age-appropriate, educational and empathy-building content such as "Curious George,""Sesame Street" and "Dora the Explorer" -- the children had fewer sleep problems, less aggression, and increased empathetic and friendly behaviors." -  Los Angeles Times (August 2012)  and  Pediatrics (August 2012)  and  Psychology Today (June 2013)  and  Huffington Post (August 2012)  and  USA Today (August 2012)  and  Deseret News (August 2012)


"Nearly a fifth of two-year-old children in Oregon spend at least two hours per day watching television, CDC researchers say."MedPage Today (July 2010)


"Children who watched more television than their peers when they were toddlers and preschoolers were more likely to have trouble when they reached fourth grade, with poorer academic achievement, psychosocial behavior, and physical well-being, a Canadian study reports." - Boston.com (May 2010)  and  Science Daily (May 2010)  and  MedPage Today (May 2010)  and  LiveScience (May 2010)  and  JAMA Pediatrics (May 2010)


"Three-year-old children who are exposed to more TV appear to be at an increased risk for exhibiting aggressive behavior, according to a report in the November issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals." - Science Daily (Nov 2009)


"This article examines the play behavior of 70 preschool children and its relationship to television violence and regulatory status. Linear regression analysis showed that violent program content and poor self-regulation were independently and significantly associated with overall and physical aggression." - ECRP (2009)


"Daily television viewing for two or more hours in early childhood can lead to behavioral problems and poor social skills, according to a study of children 2.5 to 5.5 years of age conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health." - Science Daily (Oct 2007)  and  WebMD (Oct 2007) and Arizona Republic (Oct 2007) via Unplug Your Kids (Oct 2007)  and  MedPage Today (Oct 2007) 


"Four-year-old children who watch more television than average are more likely to become bullies, research suggests." - BBC (April 2005)  and  Live Science (April 2005)






More TV = Less Attention


"Conditioning attentional skills: examining the effects of the pace of television editing on children's attention"


"Methods: School children (aged 4–7 years) were randomly assigned to one of two groups. Each group was presented with either a fast- or slow-edit 3.5-min film of a narrator reading a children's story. Immediately following film presentation, both groups were presented with a continuous test of attention."


"Results: Performance varied according to experimental group and age. In particular, we found that children's orienting networks and error rates can be affected by a very short exposure to television."


"Conclusion: Just 3.5 min of watching television can have a differential effect on the viewer depending on the pacing of the film editing. These findings highlight the potential of experimentally manipulating television exposure in children and emphasize the need for more research in this previously under-explored topic." - Acta Pædiatrica (June 2009)





"This study examined whether high levels of television viewing are associated with attention problems and hyperactivity in preschool children."


"The limitations of this study do not diminish the veracity of the positive, and potentially disturbing, association between television viewing and ADHD-related behaviors as assessed via parent and teacher ratings. It is likely that many physicians, teachers, and other professionals who work with families of young children encourage parents to seek activities other than television viewing for their preschool children. However, this recommendation may have particular importance to parents of children with behavioral difficulties because of their tendency for social isolation and their need for the development of social skills."


- Journal of Pediatric Psychology (Sept 2006)





"There are two effects of concern: First, this is an exceedingly important time in your son’s brain development. His brain will triple in volume in his first two years of life, creating billions of connections and getting rid of unnecessary ones. In order for his brain to develop in the best possible way, he needs to interact with other people, manipulate objects in his environment, and play in a way that lets him fully explore and solve problems in a creative. way. Electronic screens provide none of these experiences. Therefore, any time that he spends in front of a screen is valuable time that could be used for much richer brain-building activities—and in a 3 month old, who is likely sleeping for nearly 12 hours each day, any awake time is precious." - Ask the Mediatrician (Sept 2009)






"In a logistic regression model, hours of television viewed per day at both ages 1 and 3 was associated with attentional problems at age 7..." - Psychology Today (April 2004)  and  USA Today (April 2004)






More TV = Less Playing and Less Interaction with Parent/Caregiver


"The effects of background TV on young children are more subtle, but profoundly important.  Background TV disrupts children's play. In one study, 12- to 36-month-old kids who played with toys, while their parents were in the same room and watching adult-directed programs, played for a shorter period of time than when the TV was off. In addition, children used a less sophisticated form of play when background TV was present compared to when it was not. It seems that the TV program, even though it was mostly incomprehensible and probably boring to the children, was captivating enough to repeatedly attract the children's attention."  -  Psychology Today (Dec 2011)


"These findings suggest that TV co-viewing produces a relatively detrimental communication environment for young children, while shared book reading encourages effective mother–child exchanges."  -  Wiley Online Library (Oct 2011)


"Now scientists in Ohio have compared mother-child communication while watching TV to reading books or playing with Toys to reveal the impact on children’s development. The results, published in Human Communication Research, show that watching TV can lead to less interaction between parents and children, with a detrimental impact on literacy and language skills."  -  Psypost (Sept 2011)


"A new study looks for the first time at the effect of background TV on interactions between parents and young children. Using an experimental design, researchers found that when a TV was on, both the quantity and quality of interactions between parents and children dropped. This study challenges the common assumption that background TV doesn't affect very young children if they don't look at the screen."  -  Science Daily (Sept 2009)


"Background TV was found to disrupt the toy play of the children at every age, even when they paid little attention to it. When the television was on, the children played for significantly shorter periods of time and the time they spent focused on their play was shorter, compared to when the TV was off." - eScience News (July 2008)  and  ABC News (July 2008)  and  Science Daily (July 2008)  and  BPS Research Digest (Sept 2008)


"Daily television viewing for two or more hours in early childhood can lead to behavioral problems and poor social skills, according to a study of children 2.5 to 5.5 years of age conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health."  -  Science Daily (Oct 2007)


"It turns out that background television -- even simple background noise -- can affect young children more than we might think. According to a series of studies that have accumulated over the past decade, growing up in a noisy or "always on" TV environment may have negative consequences for speech development, playtime and parent-child interaction."  -  Washington Post (Oct 2007)


Any TV is bad TV for children under 3 - Seattle Post-Intelligencer (July 2005)


"The more television infants and toddlers watch, the more likely they are to have trouble paying attention and concentrating during their early school years, a study reports Monday." - USAToday (April 2004)


"In children, chronic aircraft noise exposure impairs reading comprehension and long-term memory and may be associated with raised blood pressure."  -  Oxford Journals (2003) 


"We've known for a long time that chronic noise is having a devastating effect on academic performance of children in noisy homes and schools" - Education World (July 1997)






More TV = Less Creative Play


“The results also showed that for seven- to 12-year-olds, the more TV they watched, the less time they spent doing homework, and among kids of all ages — especially among those younger than five — more TV meant significantly less creative play.” - Med Page Today (Feb 2006)


What About Play? When "screen time" and drills replace open-ended play, kids lose out - Rethinking Schools


"The Serious Need for Play - Free, imaginative play is crucial for normal social, emotional and cognitive development. It makes us better adjusted, smarter and less stressed" - Scientific American (Jan 2009)


Self-Regulation, Creative Play, and Television via Unplug Your Kids  more at  tvSmarter blog   Fairies and Philosophy


Young Children Need to Play! - Illinois Early Learning


"Brain Development: How Much TV Should Children Watch?" - Huffington Post (Dec 2010)






tvSmarter webpage for more information:


TV Versus Playing





Background TV


"The effects of background TV on young children are more subtle, but profoundly important.  Background TV disrupts children's play. In one study, 12- to 36-month-old kids who played with toys, while their parents were in the same room and watching adult-directed programs, played for a shorter period of time than when the TV was off. In addition, children used a less sophisticated form of play when background TV was present compared to when it was not. It seems that the TV program, even though it was mostly incomprehensible and probably boring to the children, was captivating enough to repeatedly attract the children's attention."  -  Psychology Today (Dec 2011)


"This updated policy statement provides further evidence that media—both foreground and background—have potentially negative effects and no known positive effects for children younger than 2 years. Thus, the AAP reaffirms its recommendation to discourage media use in this age group. This statement also discourages the use of background television intended for adults when a young child is in the room."  -  AAP Policy Statement (Nov 2011)  and  Press Release (Nov 2011)  and  MedPageToday (Oct 2011)  and  The New York Times (Oct 2011)  and  Science Daily (Oct 2011)  and  Live Science (Oct 2011)


"A new study looks for the first time at the effect of background TV on interactions between parents and young children. Using an experimental design, researchers found that when a TV was on, both the quantity and quality of interactions between parents and children dropped. This study challenges the common assumption that background TV doesn't affect very young children if they don't look at the screen."  -  Science Daily (Sept 2009)


"For every hour in front of the TV, parents spoke 770 fewer words to children, according to a study of 329 children, ages 2 months to 4 years, in the June issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Adults usually speak about 941 words an hour... Parents may not realize how little they interact with children when a TV is on, Christakis says. A mother may think she's engaged with a baby because they're both on the floor playing blocks. But if a TV is on in the background, the two of them talk much less, he says." - USA Today (June 2009)  and  MedPage Today (June 2009)


"We've known that television exposure during infancy is associated with language delays and attentional problems, but so far it has remained unclear why," said Christakis. "This study is the first to demonstrate that when the television is on, there is reduced speech in the home. Infants vocalize less and their caregivers also speak to them more infrequently."  - Science Daily (June 2009) Via Unplug Your Kids


"Background TV was found to disrupt the toy play of the children at every age, even when they paid little attention to it. When the television was on, the children played for significantly shorter periods of time and the time they spent focused on their play was shorter, compared to when the TV was off." - eScience News (July 2008)  and  ABC News (July 2008)  and  Science Daily (July 2008)  and  BPS Research Digest (Sept 2008)





"The preschoolers who had TVs in their bedrooms or who were exposed to lots of background TV did poorer on the tests assessing theory of the mind, even after the researchers factored in controls for age and socioeconomic status of the parents."  -  Rochester Home Page (Nov 2013)  and  EurekAlert (Nov 2013)  and  Psychology Today (Nov 2013)


"They found the average child aged 8 months to 8 years is exposed to nearly 4 hours of background television over a 24-hour period. Both younger children and African American children are exposed to more background television, at an average of 5.5 hours per day, and children from the poorest families were exposed to nearly 6 hours per day. Children in families who left the television on when no one was watching, and children who had TV sets in their bedrooms, were exposed to more background TV. The study establishes the pervasiveness of background TV in U.S. homes with children."  -  American Academy of Pediatrics (Oct 2012)  and  MedPage Today (Oct 2012)  and  Pediatrics (Oct 2012)  and  CBS News (Oct 2012)


"A new study has discovered that children in the United States are being exposed to nearly four hours of background television each day, HealthDay News and various other media outlets reported earlier this week.  As part of the study, researchers surveyed more than 1,450 English-speaking households with children between the ages of eight months to eight years old. They then looked at various other demographic variables, including gender, ethnicity, race, age, and family income, and discovered that younger children and those of African-American heritage were exposed to the highest rate of background TV noise."RedOrbit (April 2012)   and   WebMD (April 2012)






More TV = Less Sleep


"What your kids watch on TV can affect how well they sleep, a new study suggests.

Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study found that when parents intervened in their kids’ media diet -- reducing exposure to violent and age-inappropriate content and replacing it with age-appropriate, educational and empathy-building content such as "Curious George,""Sesame Street" and "Dora the Explorer" -- the children had fewer sleep problems, less aggression, and increased empathetic and friendly behaviors." -  Los Angeles Times (August 2012)  and  Pediatrics (August 2012)  and  Psychology Today (June 2013)  and  Huffington Post (August 2012)  and  USA Today (August 2012)  and  Deseret News (August 2012)  and  US News (August 2012)


"A growing body of research is finding that infants and children under the age of 3 who watch TV — even too much TV during the day — struggle with interrupted sleep and irregular bed and naptime schedules.  A recent study found that children under age 3 who watch television are at higher risk of disturbed sleep. Other studies have looked at the effects of TV viewing on older children and teens, and also found a link between TV, poor sleep and later bedtimes." -  Health Blog (Feb 2008)   and  U.S. News (Feb 2008) 


"Television viewing among infants and toddlers is associated with irregular sleep schedules." - Pediatrics (Sept 2005)  and  PubMed (Oct 2005)


TV Time Disrupts Tots' Sleep - Personal MD (2005)




"The effect appeared to accumulate, because a failure to go to bed at a regular time at multiple time points in the first 7 years of life was associated with lower cognitive scores for both boys and girls, the researchers reported online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health." -  MedPage Today (July 2013)






More TV = More Weight


"In a study of more than 1,000 children between the ages of 36 months and 54 months, those who were awake and in a room where a television was on for more than two hours per day were significantly more likely to be overweight or obese, reported Julie C. Lumeng, M.D., of the University of Michigan here, and colleagues. " - Med Page Today (April 2006)


"A striking study says one in five 4-year-olds is overweight, lengthening the odds these youngsters will stay obese later in life and encounter a string of health problems." - San Francisco Chronicle (April 2009)






More TV = More Advertising


"Study: Commercials For High-Fat Foods Permeate TV For Preschoolers" - CBS News (Oct 2006)


"Research shows that children under the age of eight are unable to critically comprehend televised advertising messages and are prone to accept advertiser messages as truthful, accurate and unbiased." - American Psychological Association (Feb 2004)


"A comparison group of children from Sweden, where advertising to children is not permitted, asked for significantly fewer items. It is argued that English children who watch more TV, and especially those who watch alone, may be socialised to become consumers from a very early age. " - International Journal of Behavioral Development (2002)


"Identifying determinants of young children's brand awareness: Television, parents, and peers " - Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology (April 2005)






Scientists Recommending No Television for Young Children


"Nine out of 10 children under the age of two watch television regularly, with some spending as much as 40 per cent of waking hours in front of the box, a study found. This is despite the lack of scientific research to demonstrate that watching TV is beneficial for toddlers, said the review, published in the child health journal Acta Paediatrica. The study, by Professor Dimitri Christakis from the Seattle Children’s Research Institute in America, looked at 78 studies published over the past 25 years." - Daily Express (Jan 2009) - More on this study - Science Daily (Jan 2009) - More on this study - E! Science News (Jan 2009) - More on this study - The Medical News (Jan 2009)


"Children under the age of two should be banned from watching television, according to guidelines prepared for the Australian government." - The Telegraph (Oct 2009)


"The public health implications of early television and video viewing are potentially large. There are both theoretical and empirical reasons to believe that the effects of media exposure on children's development are more likely to be adverse before the age of about 30 months than afterward," - Science Daily (May 2007)


TV channel for babies? Pediatricians say turn it off - San Francisco Chronicle (Sept 2006)


Anger at Sesame Street for babies - BBC (April 2006)


Experts Rip 'Sesame' TV Aimed at Tiniest Tots - Washington Post (March 2006)


"Evidence thus far indicates that the AAP recommendation is well taken, although considerably more research is needed." - American Behavioral Scientist (2005)


The American Academy of Pediatrics says children under 2 should not watch TV. Why would any parent disagree? - Salon.com (Aug 1999)


"Pediatricians again advise against TV for very young kids" - Current (Aug 1999)


AAP - Understanding TV's effects on the developing brain - Brainy-Child (May 1998)





Note, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends "Pediatricians should urge parents to avoid television viewing for children under the age of 2 years. Although certain television programs may be promoted to this age group, research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant care givers (eg, child care providers) for healthy brain growth and the development of appropriate social, emotional, and cognitive skills. Therefore, exposing such young children to television programs should be discouraged." - AAP Policy Statement (Aug 1999)


"The Effects of Electronic Media on Children Ages Zero – Six" - The Kaiser Family Foundation (Jan 2005)







TV's Falling on Children


"The rate of child injury from falling televisions has increased by 95% over the past 22 years, researchers found." - MedPage Today (July 2013)






Marketing TV to Parents


"Parent alert: the Walt Disney Company is now offering refunds for all those “Baby Einstein” videos that did not make children into geniuses. They may have been a great electronic baby sitter, but the unusual refunds appear to be a tacit admission that they did not increase infant intellect." -  The New York Times (Oct 2009)


"France's broadcast authority has banned French channels from marketing TV shows to children under 3 years old, to shield them from developmental risks it says television viewing poses at that age." - Otago Daily Times (Aug 2008)


"Breaking Free From Baby TV" - CCFC (July 2006)


"A Boston-based child advocacy group filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission yesterday charging the makers of the popular Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby videos with false and deceptive advertising." - Boston.com (May 2006)


Stage Prop for the Today Show - CCFC (2004)


"Commerciaizing Babyhood" - CCFC


DVD series for babies, parents fuels TV debate - Boston.com (March 2006)


PBS imported Teletubbies from the BBC last year and is aggressively marketing the program as educational for "children as young as one." - The American Prospect (May 1999)


"THE FORMAL PACE OF SESAME STREET OVER 26 YEARS" - Perceptual and Motor Skills (Aug 2004)






Young Children Are Watching Too Much TV


More on Children & TV Statistics


"Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America 2013" -  Common Sense Media (Oct 2013)


"A total of 596 parents of children ages 3 to 5 years completed demographic questionnaires, reported on attitudes regarding media's risks and benefits to their children, and completed one-week media diaries in which they recorded all of the programs their children watched." -  Science Daily (June 2013)


"Young children in the United States watch about 80 minutes of television per day, on average.

Depending on whether the programming is educational and age-appropriate, all that time in front of the tube can either help or harm their development, research suggests. But what happens in that 80 minutes may be only part of the story. According to a nationwide study, a much bigger proportion of kids' TV exposure comes indirectly, from television that's on in the background while they're doing other activities. The average child between the ages of 8 months and 8 years absorbs nearly four hours of this so-called background or "secondhand" TV each day, the study found. And this indirect exposure, by detracting from play, homework, and family time, may have possible consequences for kids' well-being." - CNN (Nov 2012)  and   Reuters (Oct 2012)  and   PubMed (Nov 2012)


"They found the average child aged 8 months to 8 years is exposed to nearly 4 hours of background television over a 24-hour period. Both younger children and African American children are exposed to more background television, at an average of 5.5 hours per day, and children from the poorest families were exposed to nearly 6 hours per day. Children in families who left the television on when no one was watching, and children who had TV sets in their bedrooms, were exposed to more background TV. The study establishes the pervasiveness of background TV in U.S. homes with children."  -  American Academy of Pediatrics (Oct 2012)  and  MedPage Today (Oct 2012)  and  Pediatrics (Oct 2012)  and  CBS News (Oct 2012)


"A new study has discovered that children in the United States are being exposed to nearly four hours of background television each day, HealthDay News and various other media outlets reported earlier this week.  As part of the study, researchers surveyed more than 1,450 English-speaking households with children between the ages of eight months to eight years old. They then looked at various other demographic variables, including gender, ethnicity, race, age, and family income, and discovered that younger children and those of African-American heritage were exposed to the highest rate of background TV noise."RedOrbit (April 2012)   and   WebMD (April 2012)


"As family income and education levels increase, time spent consuming media decreases, with the bulk of that decrease coming from less time spent watching TV, which wasn't the case in the 2005 study." - Ars Technica (Dec 2011)


"TV continues to dominate children’s media use.... In a typical day, 47% of babies and toddlers ages 0 through 1 watch TV or DVDs, and those who do watch spend an average of nearly two hours (1:54) doing so." - Common Sense Media (Oct 2011)


"Young kids are watching too much television, some averaging more than five hours a day, a new study suggests.

The findings include screen time at home and in different child care settings. And nearly 70 percent of the preschool-age children exceeded recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for limiting screen exposure (including TV, DVDs, computers and video games) to one to two daily hours." -  Live Science (Oct 2010)  and  Science Daily (Oct 2010)   and  CNet News (Nov 2010) 


"Children who attend home-based day-care programs are watching twice as much television per day as was previously thought..." - The Washington Post (Nov 2009) and The Answer Sheet (Nov 2009)  and  The Washington Times (Nov 2009)  and  MedPage Today (Nov 2009)


"They found that by three months of age, before infants are capable of sitting up unaided, about 40% regularly watched television, DVDs, or videos, and by 24 months of age, 90% of kids were habitually plugged in. The children were regularly exposed to visual media by a median age of nine months, and average daily viewing time increased from one hour daily at 12 months, to more than 1.5 hours by 24 months, the authors." - Med Page Today (May 2007)


"Approximately 40 percent of three-month old children and about 90 percent of children age 24 months and under regularly watch television, DVDs or videos, according to a report in the May issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine." - Science Daily (May 2007)


" Couch potatoes are getting younger: Forty percent of infants are regular TV viewers by the time they are only 3-months old, before they can even sit up on their own, a new study finds. “Early television viewing has exploded in recent years and is one of the major public health concerns facing American children,” said lead author Frederick Zimmerman of the University of Washington. The trend increases in toddlers, his research shows. At 2 years old, 90 percent of children are parked in front of the tube watching TV shows, DVDs or videos for 10 to 20 hours a week, Zimmerman found in a survey of 1,000 Minnesota and Washington families with a child born in the previous two years." - Live Science (May 2007)


"Although parents believe in the educational value of TV, DVDs and videos, just 32 percent of parents always watched with their children. Parents also had an inflated idea of how much of these media other children were watching and believed that their children viewed less than the average amount. The study indicated that the perceived average viewing for other families is 73 percent higher than the actual average. "At the end of the day the amount of TV viewing is based on what parents think is normal," said Zimmerman. "Perceptions of norms tend to shape behavior even if those norms are inflated."" - The Medical News (May 2007)


"Despite warnings, most U.S. babies watch TV" - Reuters (May 2007)


"Heavy TV viewing under 2 is found. Ignoring risks, parents cite 'educational' value." - Boston.com (May 2007)


Watching Children Watch TV - Washington Post (May 2006)


Many parents encouraging tots to watch TV - MSNBC (May 2006)


New Study Shows How Kids’ Media Use Helps Parents Cope - Kaiser Family Foundation (May 2006)


Report finds pre-schoolers use media as much as play outside - CNN (Nov 2003)


"Young children, more used to watching television than talking, are to be encouraged to improve their communication skills." - BBC (Nov 2003)


"The study also found that single mothers and mothers with less education are more likely to have children whose TV viewing exceeds AAP guidelines. And, children who watch at least three hours of TV a day at age 2 are more than twice as likely as other children to watch at least three hours a day at age 6." - About.com


"Once upon a time, we read bedtime stories. But not so much today as fewer parents share books with kids."  -  Houston Chronicle (Dec 2007)






Overview


"It’s Official: To Protect Baby’s Brain, Turn Off TV" -  Wired (Oct 2011)


"The Impact of Television on Early Childhood Brain Development" -  Live Strong (June 2011)


"The Impact of Television on Kids" -  Live Strong (June 2011)


"The Effects of Television on Kids & Infants" -  Live Strong (June 2011)


"We now live in a society where these types of experiences, so critical for appropriate brain development, have been usurped by television and other electronic media." -  Huffington Post (Dec 2010)


"TV Linked to Attention Deficit" -  Ovi Magazine (Oct 2006)


"Should babies and toddlers watch television?"  -  About.com






Miscellaneous


"Both the parent–offspring and sibling adoption designs yielded evidence for significant genetic influence on individual differences in children's television viewing. Neither IQ nor temperament appear to be responsible for this genetic influence." -  Sage (Nov 1990)


"Promoting Thriving in School-Aged Children: A Checklist" -  Psychology Today (Sept 2011)




"“Children who spent more time watching educational programs increased their relational aggression toward other children over initial levels,” Gentile said. “This study shows that children can learn more than one lesson out of a given program. They can learn the educational lesson that was intended, but they’re also learning other things along the way.”


This unintended impact has to do with the portrayal of conflict in media and how preschool-age children comprehend that conflict. Gentile said TV and movie producers often incorporate an element of bad behavior in order to teach children a lesson at the end of the program. This type of conflict is also found in children’s literature. However, since children between the ages of 2 and 5 do not typically understand the plot of shows, Gentile said they do not know how the beginning of a story relates to the end.


“Even though educational shows like Arthur have pro-education and pro-social goals, conflict between characters is often depicted with characters being unkind to each other or using relational aggressive tactics with each other,” Gentile said. “Preschool children really don’t get the moral of the story because that requires that they understand how all the parts of the show fit together. You need pretty complicated cognitive skills and memory skills to be able to do that, which are still developing in young children.”   -  Iowa State University News (Feb 2013) 






Instead of TV


CCFC - The Screen-Free Guide to Showers for Harried Parents of Infants and Toddlers


Whitedot.org - 16 tips to manage toddlers--without resorting to television


Unplug Your Kids - Toddler Trick (so I can make dinner) – Find the Frog!


Suite 101 - Keeping Toddlers Busy


Randsco.com - Keeping Our Toddler Busy


Janet Lansbury.com - A Creative Alternative To Baby TV Time


Janet Lansbury.com - Independent Infant Play – How It Works


 Janet Lansbury.com - Baby You Are Born to Play


 Janet Lansbury.com - Instead of TV and Movies


The New Parents Guide - Baby Play Pens


The New Parents Guide - Baby Jumpers


Baby Jumperoos


Six things you need to do for your baby


Moving towards a screen-free lifestyle with kids






Smartphones


"Study: Parents on Smartphones Often Ignore Kids" - Psychology Today (March 2014)  and  Pediatrics (March 2014) 












Recommended Websites


Bowling Alone 


Campaign For A Commercial-Free Childhood


Ellen Currey Wilson – The Big Turnoff 


 Herber Valley Unplugged


I’m Missing All Of My Shows 


Instead of TV 


Kill Your Television 


Media by Choice


Media Violence Resource Center


Natural News - Television


Plato's Cave 


Screen Free Week


Television vs Children 


The New Citizen


Turn Off That TV


TV Free Living


TV Smarter - Blog 


TV Stinks 


Unplug Your Kids 


White Dot 


White Dot – Forum 



Recommended Articles


"Television Addiction Is No Mere Metaphor"


University of Otago research - TV and Academic Achievement


University of Otago research - TV and Crime


Unplug Your Brain - by Jerry Mander


Why Turnoff Completely


The Dangers of TV


 TV Promoting Guns


Television and Children (University of Michigan)


Strangers in Our Homes: TV and Our Children's Minds


Excerpted from Endangered Minds - Kids' Brains Must Be Different


How Background TV Undermines Well-Being


Electronic Screen Syndrome and the rise of mental disorders in children


1000 studies over 30 years


selling audiences to advertisers


How TV Teaches Stupidity


8 Changes I Experienced After Giving Up TV


Top 5 reasons NOT to watch TV this Fall


Spudding Out


Why TV Undermines Academics & Values


Newsweek is Bad for Kids


Bowling Alone - The Strange Disappearance of Civic America


TV Legitimizing Torture


The Assault on Reason


Twilight of the Books


Evolution Of Despair


Alzheimer's & TV


Preventing Obesity


Trained to Kill


Mind-altering media


Effects of TV - Before & After


A Powerful, Massive Protest: Diminish the Corporate Media's Power by Turning off Your TV for Good!


5 Ways Parents May Be Sabotaging Their Kids’ Health


Food companies manipulate kids and parents to create lifelong loyal customers


Is an overlooked source of childhood obesity staring us in the face?


Eight Reasons Why TV is Evil


"What most surprised me were the results I got from my study, which found that the more kids are exposed to consumer culture, they likelier they are to become depressed, suffer from anxiety, or experience low self-esteem. I would have thought it was the other way around — that consumer culture was the symptom, not the cause.""





TV Limiting Technology


List & Comparison of TV blockers


Token Timer


Power Cop


Play Limit


  Power Plug Lock


Time Machine


Eye Timer


TV Be Gone


TV Be Gone - Article


Stanford Student Media Awareness to Reduce Television (SMART) curriculum is being used in California and Michigan. SMART in San Francisco, SMART in Canada