Are You Paying for Day Care or a Human TV Remote?
It could be your kids while you're at work. Odds are, they spend more time with SpongeBob Squarepants than with that woman with the framed day care certificate on her wall.
No matter what it says on the certificate, it could be that the only childcare skill she's mastered is turning on the TV.
According to US News & World Report, two-thirds of day care centers have TVs, and nearly 60 percent of their operators ignore the American Academy of Pediatrics' guidelines for television exposure in young children.
Maybe it's just an Ohio thing.
The numbers come from an Ohio study where researchers looked at 255 day care centers. According to the magazine, they found TVs in 69 percent of the centers, and children glued to the tube at least four times per month. Some 10 percent of the centers had the TV on constantly as background noise.
"The thing about television is that if it's developmentally appropriate, it's not evil, but it comes at the expense of interpersonal interaction, which is really how children achieve developmental goals," Rahil Briggs, director of the Healthy Steps program at Montefiore Medical Group in New York City, tells US News & World Report.
"When children are plopped in front of the TV, they can be missing out on what's more important for social and language development: social interaction," she adds.
Leaders of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend no TV at all for children younger than 2.
"The evidence around TV and children is that TV viewing is associated with obesity, which may be because it's replacing physical activity time, kids may be eating while they're watching TV, or because of exposure to food ads," Kristen Copeland, lead author of the Ohio study, tells US News & World Report.
"In children under 2, the concern is with learning and cognitive development. Learning occurs mostly through interaction with adults," adds Copeland, an assistant professor of pediatrics in the division of general and community pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.
Sometimes, Briggs tells the magazine, parents understandably use TV to entertain kids while they tend to household chores. Day care is another story.
"When parents put children in early childcare, they're expecting that it will be an early learning opportunity," she tells the magazine. "And if the TV is on in day care, it's taking up time that should be so much better used."
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.