Children aged six and under spend an average of two hours a day watching television and videos, using computers, and playing video games, according to Zero to Six: Electronic Media in the Lives of Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers, a study recently released by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The study reports this is roughly the same amount of time children spend playing outside (1 hour and 58 minutes) and much more than the amount of time they spend being read to or reading (39 minutes).
One of the study's most troubling findings is the amount of time very young children spend before a screen. The study finds 43 percent of children aged two and under watch television everyday, and 26 percent have a television in their bedrooms. The study also shows 68 percent of children under the age of two spend slightly more than two hours a day using screen media.
The National Institute on Media and the Family agrees with the American Academy of Pediatrics that there should be "no screen time for children ages two and under." These children, who are undergoing tremendous brain development, need active play and real people interactions to promote their developmental, physical, and social skills.
Dr. David Walsh, President and Founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family, has developed tips for parents and other caregivers to best use television. One of these tips includes keeping the TV out of kids' bedrooms. According to Dr. Walsh, having a television in a child's room discourages participation in family time, increases risk of obesity, and encourages children to watch television when they should be doing other activities important to their growth, such as reading and play.
Dr. Walsh's tips are found at http://www.mediafamily.org/facts/tips_tametube.shtml.
To learn more about Zero to Six: Electronic Media in the Lives of Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers, you can visit http://www.kff.org/content/2003/20031028/.
Additional information about the American Academy of Pediatrics' positions on the impact of media on children is available at http://www.aap.org/family/mediaimpact.htm.
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