More About the Impact of Media on Kids

In our last blog, we discussed the negative impact of technology and use of electronic devices in promoting bonding and attachment, learning, and school readiness. Today, we will expand on this topic by exploring the specific developmental and health consequences related to exposing infants and young children to television, whether used as foreground or background media. As in all blogs, we will reference the Growing Great Kids resources available around this topic and conclude with a few tips and recommendations from the experts.

According to Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a Pediatrician and also the Director of the Child Health Institute at the University of Washington, it is not just the age at which children start to watch TV, but it is also the amount that they watch that is concerning.  Since the time TV came into our homes, some 60 or 70 years ago, the media landscape has evolved considerably.  In the early days, it was estimated that a typical child began watching TV at 4 years of age and consumed approximately 3-4 hours per day.  Today, the typical child begins watching TV at 4 months old and is engaged in media for up to 8 hours per day (Christakis, 2010).  The American Academy of Pediatrics has also revealed some alarming findings around this issue.  They said that 90% of parents report that their children younger than 2 years watch some form of electronic media (TV programs, DVD, videos).  By the age of 3 years, approximately one-third of children have a television in their bedroom (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011). Parents report they use television as a peacekeeper, a safe activity, and even as part of their children’s sleep routine. All of this is connected to the industry’s efforts that target young children and their parents as key consumers of electronic media including educational videos, television programs, and cable networks.

Researchers point out that infant TV viewing might adversely affect critical milestones of early childhood related to language and cognitive development, attention capacity, and social skills. Screen time has also been associated with health issues including obesity, sleep issues, aggressive behaviors, and attention issues for school age children.  Experts say that the flashing lights, scene changes, quick edits, and auditory cuts may be overstimulating to developing brains and children’s abilities to regulate mood, behavior, and learning.  Additionally, TV viewing limits the infant’s opportunities for quality time with human caregivers (Christakis, 2010).  Babies need face-to-face interactions with their parents/caregivers!

The Growing Great Kids Curriculum incorporates several conversation guides with topics specifically designed to share research findings on TV and Child Development and to explore ways with parents to decrease the amount of TV time. Here are just a few of the many topics:

  • 0-3 Months: Cues and Communication:  No Benefits from Infant DVD’s and TV Programs
  • 0-3 Months: Cues and Communication: Infants Need Face-to-Face Interaction
  • 4-6 Months: Cues and Communication: Foundations for Language Learning
  • 7-9 Months: Physical and Brain Development: Brain Cells: Use Them or Lose Them
  • 10-12 Months: Play and Stimulation: Learning Problem Solving Through Play
  • 16-18 Months: Physical and Brain Development: TV and Early Brain Development
  • 22-24 Months: Play and Stimulation: Arranging Your Toddler’s Day
  • 31-36 Months: Physical and Brain Development: Increasing Attention Span
  • 31-36 Months: Physical and Brain Development: Encouraging Receptive and Expressive Language Development
  • 31-36 Months: Basic Care: I Want to Sleep Handout

Some recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics (American Academy of Pediatrics, 2011) around infant/children TV watching include:

  • No media use for children under the age of 2
  • Set media limits for children and have a strategy for managing background media
  • Avoid placing a television in the child’s bedroom
  • If children are engaged in TV watching, turn the TV off at least 45 minutes before the child’s bedtime ritual begins
  • Substitute TV time with  parent-child and  independent play
  • Provide activities and toys to increase the child’s attention span

While eliminating media might not be realistic for many parents, knowing the adverse effects on their children’s development and health would hopefully motivate them to set limits for TV time and look for creative ways to interact with their children. Also, remember that GGK provides hundreds of Child Development Activities for parents and children to experience face-to-face interactions!

 

WORKS CITED:

Christakis, Dimitri A, M.D., M.P.H. (2010). Infant media viewing: First, do no harm. Pediatric Annals, 39(9), 578-82. http://dx.doi.org/10.3928/00904481-20100825-10

The American Academy of Pediatrics (2011). Media Use by Children Younger Than 2 Years. Pediatrics Volume 128, Number 5. Retrieved from www.pediatrics.org/cgi/doi/10.1542/peds.2011-1753

The American Academy of Pediatrics (2011). Babies and Toddlers Should Learn form Play Not Screens. Retrieved from https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/Pages/Babies-and-Toddlers-Should-Learn-from-Play-Not-Screens.aspx

Recent Posts

Giving Yourself (and Others) Grace

“Can I play the drums again?” they asked. Without giving it a moment of thought, a “no” came out of my mouth. It wasn’t the most convincing ‘no’ ⸺ more of a feeble reaction to the extra effort this activity would require when my patience was already thin. To this child, that no from their warm-hearted aunt sounded negotiable, and the lure of the shiny drum kit won over.

read more

Messy Fun Makes Healthy Brains

As I settle in to write this evening, the blue sky is fading to dark, and the evidence of a busy day lies scattered amongst my home. Stacked dishes fill the kitchen sink, toys decorate the living room floor, and dirty laundry overflows from every hamper.

read more

Growing Resilience

 Why am I talking about trees, you might wonder? Well, yesterday’s incident got me thinking about how unexpected storms can also come up in life, and if we, our families, and our communities are healthy and resilient, we’re in a better place to withstand these pressures and thrive.

read more

Share a Meal…Spread the Love

March is finally here! If you’re like me, you’re eager for this month to arrive. I’m happy to welcome longer days, warmer weather, and a brand-new season. One of the ways my family celebrates the budding trees and blooming flowers is by firing up the grill. You can often find us stacking shish kabobs with colorful peppers, slices of sweet onion, and juicy chunks of pineapple.

read more

Beautiful Bonds Last a Lifetime

Almost a decade later, when I reflect on this memory, I can still feel this parent’s presence. At that moment, nothing else mattered in the entire world to this parent. It almost seemed as if time was standing still. Looking back on this memory, it’s obvious what was happening right before my eyes. This parent was fully present with their infant. A secure attachment relationship was forming.

read more

Walking Your Talk

I paused at the entrance to the trail, double-checking that I was prepared for the unknown.  Water, check.  Shoes tied, check. Trail map, check.  I took a deep breath and my first steps into uncertain terrain.  Equal parts eager and apprehensive. 

read more

Growing Great Kids®

Why Choose Great Kids?

Never any recurring licensing fees

Proven Success

Over 37,000 people have been trained to use the Great Kids curricula

Protective Factors – GGK Constructs

Research informed constructs embedded in the Protective Factors Framework

Alignment with Head Start

The Growing Great Kids Home Based Curricula Series exceeds all Head Start Curriculum requirements

Evidenced Based Research

As evidenced by seven independent evaluations, the GGK Curriculum produces outstanding results

Specialized Training Programs 

On-site and virtual training options available

Healthy Families America

The Growing Great Kids curriculum aligns with and builds upon the HFA model approach