TV Watching Is Bad for Babies’ Brains

Babies who watch TV are morelikely to have delayed cognitive development and language at 14 months,especially if they’re watching programs intended for adults and older children.We probably knew that 24and Grey’s Anatomy don’treally qualify as educational content, but it’s surprising that TV-watchingmade a difference at such a tender age.
Babies who watched 60 minutes ofTV daily had developmental scores one-third lower at 14 months than babies whoweren’t watching that much TV. Though their developmental scores were still inthe normal range, the discrepancy may be due to the fact that when kids andparents are watching TV, they’re missing out on talking, playing, andinteractions that are essential to learning and development.
This new study, which appeared inthe Archivesof Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, followed 259 lower-incomefamilies in New York, most of whom spoke Spanish as their primary language athome. Other studies examining higher-income families have also come to the sameconclusion: TV watching not only isn’t educational, but it seems to stuntbabies’ development.
But what about “good”TV, like Sesame Street? The researchersdidn’t find any pluses or minuses when compared to non-educational programsdesigned for small children, like SpongeBobSquarePants. Earlier research by some of the same scientists, most of whomare at New York University School of Medicine-BellevueHospital Center, has found that parents whose children watch non-educational TVprograms like Spongebob SquarePantsspend less time reading to their children or teaching them.
At this point, parents readingthis are probably saying D’oh! TV is so often a parent’s good friend, keepingkids happily occupied so the grownups can cook dinner, answer the phone, ortake a shower. But clearly that electronic babysitter is notan educational aid.
The bottom line: This lateststudy adds more fuel to a recommendation from the American Academy ofPediatrics that babies under age 2 watch no TV at all. If you’ve just got towatch Dexter, it’s best tomake sure the tots are fast asleep.