Early Learning – Can Movies and TV Ever Be Good For Babies and Small Children?

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Early Learning – Can Movies and TV Ever Be Good For Babies and Small Children?

What an important question! As a parent of an infant or toddler, you want to help your child reach his or her potential. We know language and social skills are important for success in school and in life. And what better time to start than when your kids are young?

First, the bad news—really bad news. “Excessive viewing before age three has been linked to problems with attention control, aggressive behavior, and impaired cognitive development. Premature television viewing has exploded in recent years and is one of the leading public health problems facing children in the United States One,” according to University of Washington researcher Frederick Zimmerman.

In this article, we examine the suggested links between screen time and reduced vocabulary, ADHD, autism and violent behaviour. Then we’ll look at how you might use baby TV and movies to help your child learn.

Lower language skills A University of Washington study showed that 40 percent of three-month-old babies and 90 percent of two-year-olds “watch” TV or movies on a regular basis. Researchers found that parents allow their infants and toddlers to watch educational TV, baby videos/DVDs, other children’s programming and adult programming.

What can we learn from this research?

* “Most parents are looking for what is best for their children, and we found that many parents felt that they were providing educational and brain development opportunities by showing their children 10 to 20 hours of television a week,” Researcher, Developmental Psychology Says Andrew Meltzoff.

*According to the study’s lead author, Frederick Zimmerman, that’s a bad thing. “Exposure to television takes up more time for developmentally appropriate activities, such as parents or adult caregivers and babies playing freely with dolls, blocks or cars…” he said.

*Infants aged 8 to 16 months who watched baby shows knew fewer words than those who did not.

“The more videos they watched, the fewer words they knew,” said Dr. Dimitri Christakis. “These infants scored about 10 percent lower in language skills than infants who had not seen the videos.”

*Meltzoff says that parents “instinctively tune their speech, eye gaze, and social signals to support language acquisition”—obviously something machines can’t do!

*Surprisingly, it didn’t make any difference whether the parents watched with the baby or not!

Why are these babies learning more slowly? “Babies need face-to-face interaction to learn. They don’t get that interaction from watching TV or videos. In fact, watching may interfere with critical circuitry during early development,” said Dr. Vic Strasburger, professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. It’s laid out in their brains.”

ADHD attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is characterized by problems with attention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, MPH et al point to a link between ADHD and early TV viewing.

“Compared to the pace at which real life unfolds and young children experience, television can depict rapidly changing images, landscapes and events. It can be overstimulating but very entertaining,” the researchers said. “We found that early exposure to television was associated with subsequent attentional related to power issues.”

The researchers examined data on 1,278 one-year-olds and 1,345 three-year-olds. They found that at these ages, watching an extra hour of TV per day made the child 10 percent more likely to exhibit ADHD behaviors by age 7.

Autism Autism is characterized by poor or no language skills, poor social skills, unusual repetitive behaviors, and obsessive interests. A Cornell University study found that higher rates of autism appear to be linked to higher screen time.

The researchers hypothesize that “a small subset of individuals are predisposed to autism due to their underlying biology and that excessive or certain types of television viewing by young children are a trigger for this condition.”

In a review of the study in the journal Slate, Gregg Easterbrook noted abnormal activity in visual processing areas of the brain in children with autism. Since these areas develop rapidly during the first three years of a child’s life, he wondered whether “excessive viewing of brightly colored, two-dimensional screen images” might be causing the problem. I found this review very interesting, as it applies to everything from “good children’s programming” to adult material.

Violence The National Association for the Education of Young Children has identified the following areas of concern for children viewing violence on television: * Children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others. * They may be more likely to be aggressive or hurtful toward others. * They may become more afraid of the world around them.

The American Psychological Association has reported several studies in which some children watched violent programming while others watched nonviolent programming. Those in the first group were slower to intervene, either directly or by calling for help, when they saw young children fighting or breaking toys after the show.

Now that we have the bad news…

Are movies available? I think so. I think the key is to use the program, not just watch it. Most people know that reading to a baby is fine, but no one puts a book in front of a baby and walks away thinking it’s not doing her any good!

Rock your baby or tap to the rhythm of classical music or children’s songs.

Be very, very picky about what your young child watches — and watch it with him. Does the program demonstrate kindness, helpfulness, generosity…any of the values ​​you want your child to learn?

When she’s old enough to empathize with images of people, animals, and toys, talk to her about what she sees. “Look at the puppy, he’s playing with the kitten. They’re friends, and mother is your friend.” “The birds are hungry. They’re calling for their mother. She’ll be back with some food.” “Oops.” The lamb is lost, I don’t know if the shepherd can find it.”

Make screen time a special and highly limited time shared by the two of you. Treat a baby or toddler movie like a book – as another tool to give you something to engage with your child.

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