TV? Helpful or harmful? Rachel Barr and Elizabeth Zack Georgetown University AAP Recommendation • Children under age 2 should watch NO screen media. 1999. • It decreases the quality and quantity of parent-child interactions. • This recommendation was made without almost no research behind it. • Since 1999, more research has been done but there’s still a lot we don’t know. Since 1999, “explosion” in media for young children • Videos like Baby Mozart, Baby Einstein claim to increase cognitive learning/brain development and intelligent. • There is no credible evidence proving this. As a matter of fact………….. • In adults, 17 different regions of the cerebral cortex are activated to make sense of “edited video.” These regions must work together. • This part of the brain is immature until after age 2. They can’t make sense of it. • They aren’t able to process the information they see. They may laugh and stare at TV. • But, children under age 2 don’t use it to guide a search for hidden toys – the information is meaningless to them. • Toddlers pay no more attention to normal video vs. distorted video until after 18 months. Only then does it matter to them that it makes sense. Now for the really bad news… Parents are not following the recommendation. • 68% use some form of screen media 1-2 hours every day – most spend watching TV or videos/DVD’s. • 40% is child-directed programming – the rest of the time, the TV is on in the background. • Parents are being bombarded with TV and video marketing itself as “child-friendly.” So why is it dangerous? • Viewing under age 2 does appear to be associated with attention deficit symptoms and poorer language and cognitive development. • Background adult TV interferes with normal play and social interaction. How to minimize negative effects? • Researchers looked at what good booksharing studies found. • Parents need to provide the structure by: – Labeling and describing real world objects – Asking questions – Using abstractions such as “This is your favorite sound. That looks like your ball.” What did the research show? • When parents used these techniques, children stayed attentive 70% of the time on average. • They watched the most if they had seen it before (repetition). • They watched the least if background noise was on. Making Sense of the Research for parents • If babies are viewing, strongly urge them to limit the time. • Choose the content carefully. No adult programming and child-directed programming that is research-based. (Baby Mozart and Kids Favorites 2 all were ranked highly by the researcher). • Watch with your baby. Ask questions, describe and label and relate the content to your baby’s life. More Tips for Parents • Don’t discourage your baby from wanting to watch the same thing over and over. Repetition increases attention and, maybe, understanding. • Help your baby make connections between the 2-dimension object on TV and the real world. Find similar objects to label and play games with. • Don’t let TV replace active play. Another study looked at how communication skills are affected when parents use specific strategies with children during TV viewing. Sekhar S. Pindiprolu, Ph.D. U.S. Dept. of Education Parents were taught four specific strategies to facilitate language. • • • • Praise Expansions Pause Questions The results indicate: • Children had limited receptive vocabulary gains. • They increased their raw score on expressive vocabulary measures. • They increased in turn taking. • This small group of children were not harmed by TV viewing when the strategies were in place. In a nutshell…. • Parents with children under 2 need to know that the research suggests that it could be harmful due to the stage of brain development the child is in. • Parents with children over 2 need to understand that they can minimize any negative results by labeling, using abstractions and asking questions – by talking about what they see!