No TV for Children Under 2, Doctors’ Group Urges

Hippa Hippa Hey, one of the many shows directly marketed to toddlers

Hippa Hippa Hey, one of the many shows directly marketed to toddlers

In the past few years, a new kind of specialty TV channel has been inserted in regular programming: TV for toddlers. Networks such as BabyTV air shows that were devised for and aimed to children under two. Most parents who have watched these strange, hypnotic shows are amazed by how their babies are mesmerized by them. But one cannot help but ask: Is it healthy to place a baby, who is barely aware of its surroundings, in front of an 51″ plasma TV with CGI cartoon characters bouncing around in high definition and chanting strange things? Are these shows “educational” or mind-numbing hypnosis sessions scientifically devised to subliminally capture babies’ attention?

No matter what’s the answer, a group of doctors agree that TV is simply not good for babies. If it already makes fully grown adults dumber, one can only imagine what TV does to baby with soft brains who don’t even have the motor functions to stand up straight. Here’s an article summing up a study by the Journal of Pediatrics.

Kids under 2 should play, not watch TV, doctors say

Children under age 2 should avoid watching TV as much as possible, according to a new policy statement from the nation’s largest group of pediatricians, who suggest the tots should play instead.

The idea that TV programs are beneficial to the learning of children this young has not been proved, the American Academy of Pediatrics says. In addition, TV viewing may lead to sleep problems and a delayed use of speech in young kids, recent research suggests.

Even merely having the TV on in the background may be less than optimal for a child’s development, the AAP says. Background television may distract from playtime activities that benefit children’s learning. And it may distract parents, preventing them from speaking and interacting with their kids, the AAP says.

However, the recommendations run counter to what most parents actually do. About 90 percent of parents say their kids younger than 2 watch some type of media, according to a 2007 study. By the age of 3, nearly one-third of kids have a TV in their bedrooms.

As a compromise, parents should come up with a strategy to manage TV viewing in their young children, the AAP says. Ideally, when kids younger than 2 watch TV, their parents should watch it with them.

The new policy statement was released today (Oct. 18) here at the AAP National Conference & Exhibition. The policy statement specifically addresses the viewing of TV programs and does not comment on the potential benefits or risks of using phone applications, video games or other programs a child may encounter on a screen.

Young kids and TV

The AAP first released guidelines on media use by young kids in 1999, concluding that media use by kids under 2 should be discouraged. Since then, a lot more research has been done on the subject. The AAP reviewed this research for its new policy statement and essentially came to the same conclusion.

That’s not to say that kids can’t benefit from TV. Children older than 2 can improve their language and social skills by watching TV, some studies have shown.

However, in order to gain a benefit from a TV program, kids need to be able to understand and pay attention to it. Young kids may lack the mental ability to comprehend what they are watching. In fact, two studies have found that, for kids 2 and under, watching programs such as “Sesame Street” may have a negative impact on language development, the AAP says.

“There’s a great developmental digital divide,” Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician in Austin, Texas, and lead author of the new policy statement, said at a news conference. Studies show that children under 11/2 years old have the same reaction to a TV program regardless of whether it’s going forward or backward, Brown said. In contrast, older children prefer to watch the program forward.

All in all, instead of spending time in front of the TV, young kids are likely better off spending that time engaged in unstructured play, which promotes creative thinking, problem solving and reasoning skills.

Setting limits

If parents choose to let their young kids watch TV, they should set limits, the AAP says. They should also avoid placing a TV in the child’s bedroom

Parent should be aware TV programs may affect their child’s development, even if the child cannot understand the program. They should turn the TV off if no one is watching it and try to watch their adult programs when the kids are not around, Brown said.

If parents cannot play with their kids directly, even having the children play with toys by themselves can be beneficial, the AAP says.

The AAP also recommends further research in this area to examine the long-term effects of early TV viewing on toddlers’ development.

The new policy statement will be published in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics.

MSNBC, Kids under 2 should play, not watch TV, doctors say


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110 Comments on "No TV for Children Under 2, Doctors’ Group Urges"

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To all the parents on here talking about how tv helps reel your kid in when you need to get something done like cooking dinner:
I think the best solution for this would be to find an equally immersive real-world activity for them that will help rather than hinder their brain development. Some things that I've found most kids love are arts and crafts, building type toys like lego & tinkertoy and musical instruments. Kids go nuts for keyboards.

my bfs nephew is gonna be 2 in march and ever since he was a baby has been planted in front of a TV.

he can barely speak and cant make simple sentences or asks a questions. he speaks in single words and doesnt respond to questions. now correct me if im wrong but shouldn't he be at least saying more than one word at a time now? my bf yells at me when i bring it up and says his nephews fine. but i dont think he is.

Another thing I wanted to add is that I once saw this CHILDREN'S! cartoon on tv and on that show I noticed that the characters were too sexually developed. This was a CHILDREN'S cartoon. They were literally sexy! The female characters were full chested with cleavage and curves! I was disturbed by this because when I was a child, cartoon character's were never drawn like this. They were cute, not sexy. Also, the characters in this show are teenagers who lead teenage lives. How can children relate to teen characters? It seems like the agenda here is to make children grow up much quicker than they should.

My mother cannot even sleep with the tv off. If the tv were to go off while she's sleeping and she wakes up, she would have a cussing fit. When she's home, the tv always has to be on. I always try to tell her that normal people sleep in the dark, but she still insists on keeping the tv on at night. I've even suggested using a night light, but to no avail.

@ silvershell / comment #1 :

Totally agree about Muno, it's creepy! And it has ONE EYE only… humain being, fishes, animal etc… everything has 2 eyes. What does this freaking thing want to teach our kids? isn't it weird? Maybe he wanna say : "hi children! focus on the single eye because you're groing up in a world controlled by the Illuminati!"

I have a few experiences with TV as a child: First, I was a 90's child, so I definetly watched Rocko and Ren and Stimpy and all of that fun stuff… but then I saw it come on Nickelodeon's "90's are all that" and their humor is VULGAR! Not to mention the creepy hypnotic drawings.. have you seen the title scene for Rocko's modern life? They are definetly NOT children's shows! And when I was a little older, spongebob came out and for about 4 years I watched it a TON! But then I developed this violent alter-persona that was uncontrollable and frightened everyone, and that definetly made watching spongebob out of the question for me! Oh, and I used to be like a young einstein too, but after watching spongebob so much I developed ADHD and it's hard to control since I'm super anti-medication. And then TV can do… Read more »

I think it's funny how Disney channel shows such as 'Jesse' can still make their way on to your website to advertise.

Research has already confirmed that children who watch TV under the age of two have a higher risk of having attention deficit disorders as older children. I see it all the time as a third grade teacher. These kid's reading abilities are poor, they have low muscle tone, struggle to write for long periods of time, can't sit up straight, struggle to follow through on instructions because the TV has made them lazy, and dumbed them down. At that age the neuropaths are being laid for future learning, and these cannot be laid down by a TV. The neuro-paths must be developed through hands on real-life learning, and children learn through play. Play is very important for developmental milestones, and is beneficial to the child's OVERALL development. Yes, perhaps some children can speak or walk when they should, but I'm curious to hear from those parents in a few years… Read more »
i have 3 kids aged 1 4 and 7….i recently stopped letting them watch tv and movies….i never let them watch Disney. They are kids and they lack so much imagination. If they arent watching something or playing with the iPad they are 'bored' and dont know what to so. Its my fault for getting them used to it. I wont be making that mistake anymore….its unplugged and staying that way! My daughter could read and write before going to school coz i sat with her everyday and taught her, not because of Sesame Street (which is a pathetic show!)….those puppets talk with bad grammer and have anger management issues! Too much singing and music in the shows too which is of no use to my kids…. From now on I plan to get the kids into more educational hands on games and interactions This article was great. Just found… Read more »

Thank you, I will not on the tv for my baby

I have two cousins who are brilliant and they watch TV minimally , but i have another cousin who is 3 now and since he was 6months TV has been babysitting him , sadly he cannot speak properly , he runs and hides from everyone , he has violent outbursts . I am not sure if TV is the reason for this but it worries me .

HappyCynic: You might want to revisit the Wiki site you quote, as there is no mention of 'hand job' in the text you quote.

It always pays to confirm sources!

My mom and dad told me to stop watching too much tv and start reading more

so I turned on the subtitles

Just to add to my last comment, I also take my baby to Baby Sensory classes once a week; play groups every other week; swimming and play alot of music for him from Simply Red, Rod Stewart, Motown, The Overtones; a bit of MJ, bit of Maroon 5 and Green Day. It's not all tv for him.

I don't agree totally with this post VC. I have a 6 month old baby and I allow him to watch Baby TV. Hippa Hippa Hey focuses on matching sounds to visuals, what's so wrong in that? Also, it is proven that repetition increases learning. I sit and watch these programmes with my baby for up to 20-30mins daily. He loves Hippa Hippa Hey, Tullie and Charlie and the numbers. When he sees Tullie, he laughs. And when Charlie comes on I sing along. Even when we're out, I sing the song Charlie sings (counting from 1 to 10 for those who don't know). Whether he understands or not, he responds. And after 20 or 30 mins, I change the channel to watch my programmes. I also read alot to him from bedtime rhymes, to Peepo to Bible stories. I am very animated so he responds and pays attention right… Read more »

You know Honii, you can actually stimulate your kid yourself, you don't need TV for that. The advantage of doing it yourself is that, in that case, you're 100% sure your kid is not being used for somebody else's agenda.

That being said, TV can actually be beneficial, I mean, I could speak English when I was about 9 years old just by watching shows in English and reading the subtitles. But if you want to form your own opinion and not somebody elses, it really is best to put a limit on it or to be very critical about the information you receive through that media.

Hi Jorgo, I did not particurlarly mean that I use only TV to stimulate my child. Which was why I added that I take him to Baby Sensory, I read for him, we go to play groups, swimming and soon Gymbabes. So my baby is in fact very stimulated and he is allowed to watch Baby TV for only half hour a day, which is short if we are to compare other parents who allow theirs to do far more. But thanks for your comments….

I dont have kids yet but at one point a coworker of mine who has a toddler would continuously tell me that the uber popular PBS Sprout show 'Kipper' was a depiction of what it's like to be high. I kid you not she says that she has no idea why kids and parents love it some much seeing as all Kipper ever does is a bunch of nonsensical foolery that brings to mind her youth days as a pot smoking hippie. I watched Kipper because she wouldnt stop talking about it, and it's so true. I don't see how that show would benefit anyone's development let alone a toddlers.

Look at this Baby TV

Notice the Owl and the Eyes painted on the egg who figures out the one outcast egg is now an owl?

Those of you who are well read should get it.

This is really scary s**t.

well I'm 15, even before I could even comprehend it,as an infant my father would plop me in front of the tv, hand me the remote and just sit and watch me (he worked from home and so did my mum) apparently I was around the age of 1, and I'd always end up picking the animal planet or the travel shows, I detested barney, tom and jerry and never really understood teletubbies, but I did watch a lot of pokemon and Spongebob, I also have this weird ass quirk, as a child I'd watch a lot of horror, darcula, you know, bloody and gorey stuff, and I never had fits or anything, but now, even though it is quite subtle, I cannot stand violence and i hate blood and gore, eg- super fly video on youtube, the ending made me flinch O-o also I dont know if this has… Read more »

I have a 2 year old nephew and he loves watching youtube vids that his parents downloaded to ipad. I am not comfortable with the idea that he is spending so much time watching vids and not playing and exploring physically. From what I observe, adults love that kids are able to imitate what they see. They confuse that with intelligence. If you believe watching tv is helping your kids to learn, you are not entirely wrong, but please watch with them, talk to them about it, and encourage them to question everything. If you have no time to do that, you will have harder time to repair the damage you may cause.

I compared my generation to the young generation today, and I am sorry, but kids are getting more unhealthy and less smart.

Probably because:

1. They have less people skills – because they play too much video games.

2. They have a lot to learn about the world outside – because they watch too much tv.

3. They have less good manners and right conduct – because information *good or bad* is very accessible and there's no one to filter out the information they are gathering.

''They should turn the TV off if no one is watching it and try to watch their adult programs when the kids are not around, Brown said.'' …so the adults can be dumbed down while their trying to keep their children from being dumbed down

Well, yesterday I kind of made a stand. I had a good conversation with my wife (I cannot expose her to everything I know at this time, she would think I'm insane). But we agreed that there's no more TV, except in the weekends an hour a day max. If it was up to me the damn thing would go out period but, I'm afraid that's impossible currently.

My little daughter never watches adult programs but a lot of, yes, baby TV. Approximately 30 minutes to an hour a day so, I think this is a good start of reducing it. BTW, anybody knows "mice builders" and noticed the abundant usage of 666-es throughout the sow?

That's wonderful. You're the head of the home and it's right that you lead your family like that. I say chuck the thing and live with the bad attitudes for a week or two. Once they realise how much happens when a t.v is not present, it would have been worth the it.

Thanks. You know, the little one asks for baby tv but when I say no, she forgets about it a minute later, of course, I need to keep her busy but let's face it, that's wehat parenting is all about, spending time with your kids, trying to teach them a thing or two.

Oh, and an other blatant display of masonic imagery can be found in the show called "where is grandpa?", complete with the masonic checkerboard floor and pilars.

I understand you . My husband is vise versa now he thinks I lost it . I covered my TV and turned off the wii and put duct tape on computer ; turned off the Wi-Fi signal so no one can go online without asking me first ; I have walking rule after dinner around 2 blocks and back home . My kids play outside and if my oldest doesn't want play outside she's 10 then I make her learn sew or paint or hang out in front porch . My son is 4 and in summer he goes daily playground and outside at home for total 4 to 6 hrs . I lost my job but not my sanity.II only watch night 2 Spanish shows and rest time doing home projects in yard or DIY plenty to do needs done . I am Facebook/ twitter free and limited time… Read more »

My cousin, everytime i go to their house, ALWAYS has family guy playing on the computer, and her 2 year old watches it too. Now i always felt this was a bad idea in the back of my mind, but reading all these comments do you think it could have a bad effect in the long run? There is alot of animated puke, blood, guts and violence/sex references in the show, and she gets scared when she sees violence/blood…is this safe for her to watch at such a young age ?! Her grammar and learning are fine though, she can count up to 20!

Explain to her is rated PG14 and is disgusting show and racist . If they want to discussion get into details and back up with facts from quotes etc. I have 4 year old & 10 year old and I do NOT let them watch anything alone or let alone south park or family guy anything PG or G . They have limited time 1 hr daily and we walk after 6pm as family and play outside.I didn't grow up with Facebook or net or TV so: my perspective is like those who are wiser . Don't let TV turn your brain & heart into pudding.Save that kid before they start having nightmares and feeling safe issues etc . I have 3 year old newfew who cannot talk only says mommy and mad . He used to watch TV as infant and my sister made huge mistake and used it… Read more »

I can attest to this first hand because my sister would do nothing but stay in her room and watch tv with her daughter. Now she's 18 and she has a significant speech impediment and she is between regular intelligence and mentally retarded not to mention her arrested development and emotional immaturity.

This article should be required reading for human beings everywhere- especially those of us who normally don't or can't read. For the sake of our children. Half of my generation seems to be composed of basket cases and drug addicts. I'm only 19. I shudder to think of what could happen to the newborns if this crap gets to them.