Allowing children under 3 to watch television can impair their linguistic and social development, and also put them at risk of health problems including attention-deficit disorder, autism and obesity.
Before the age of 3, children's brains go through rapid development and are being physically shaped in response to whatever they are exposed to.
Exposing children to fast-moving images for sustained periods at this time can inhibit their ability to sustain attention, and hinder their development of social skills.
Research suggests that television can also cause irregular sleep patterns for infants and toddlers, and decrease their resting metabolic rate, which compounds the physiological problems that come with lack of exercise.
At least one study suggests that early exposure to TV can be a trigger for autism.Guardian Unlimited April 24, 2007
Earlier this year, I told you about the work of Dr. Aric Sigman, a noted British psychologist who's just as concerned as I am about the dire effects TV can have on kids.
The summarized and linked Guardian article above explains Dr. Sigman's views about the harmful effects TV can have on the health of young ones watching as little as 90 minutes a day.
Kids don't need a TV to help them get interested in the outside world. As Dr. Sigman so accurately put it, "The world around them [children] gets them interested in the outside world."
I understand the temptation to allow the TV to serve as a surrogate babysitter because our culture has created such an economic challenge that the resources are frequently not available to provide an optimal parenting setting.
You have to do what you have to do. However, it is important to realize that there are consequences for your choices, and just like choosing to consume fast food, you may regret the long-term complications.
For the record, Dr. Sigman believes no baby under age 3 should be watching TV at all, and those between the ages of 3 and 7 should be limited to no more than an hour in front of the tube daily.
If you believe these restrictions are too harsh, however, consider all the health issues, including childhood obesity and a lack of exercise, that the presence of an always-on TV exacerbates. In addition, TV can:
Begin the process of lessening your reliance on a TV to "babysit" your child today by taking some time to engage them in activities that have nothing at all to do with sitting in front of a glow box.
You Can Give Up Your TV
TV Watching, Childhood Obesity Linked
Get The TV OUT of Your Child's Room says the American Academy of Pediatrics