Is It OK For Kids Under 2 To Watch TV?

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Babies

How much is too much when it comes to watching TV? Credit: jupiterimages

If you want to start an argument in a room full of parents, mention television and open up the debate on very young children watching it.

Whether they let their kids watch as much TV as they like, or don't allow them to see a screen until middle school, TV is a topic parents are passionate about, particularly when it comes to babies and toddlers.

Just how much TV are children under the age of 2 watching? The answer is a lot.

A story on reports 74 percent of all infants and toddlers have watched TV before the age of 2, citing Children and Electronic Media, a study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser also found that more than four in 10 -- or 43 percent -- of children under the age of 2 watch TV every day and nearly one in five -- 18 percent -- watch videos or DVDs every day, according to PBS.

How bad is all of this pre-preschool screen gazing? The answer is unclear. PBS's Web site says studies on the effects of television viewing have focused mainly on preschoolers, while those of "infants and toddlers have received limited attention." Still, PBS does point out that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges parents "to avoid television viewing for children under the age of 2 years."

So, what should parents do? As with all things, moderation is key.

"There is a big difference between a baby or toddler watching a few minutes of an educational DVD and the two to three hours of viewing per day that the American Academy of Pediatrics found to be potentially unsound for young minds," Julia Pimsleur Levine, creator of the "Little Pim" educational DVD series for babies, toddlers and preschoolers, tells ParentDish.

She also cites a less-publicized AAP finding from "Children who watched "Sesame Street" and other educational programs did better in school readiness and had stronger verbal and math abilities."

Let's face it: It is highly likely that your kids are going to watch TV.

"The question we should be considering," Pimsleur Levine says, "is 'what' and 'how much' screen time is right for them? Media literacy should be the issue of the day, not media abstinence."

Related: Preschoolers Benefit From Television And Video Games

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.