According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 74% of all infants and toddlers have watched television before the age of two. Sound alarming? Are we raising little couch potato spuds? Perhaps not: A study released in February 2009 may put to rest fears that watching television during infancy negatively affects a child's development.
The study, conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), concluded that watching television during infancy does not seem to be associated with a child's language or visual motor skills by the age of three. In 2015, the AAP revised their strict, time-based limits. Instead of recommending that children older than two years watch no more than one to two hours a day of quality TV programming, and children under the age of two avoid television altogether, they now agree that more open-ended guidelines are more realistic.
Potential Benefits of TV
That's not to say that some television isn't a good thing. In fact, research has shown that school readiness and verbal and math abilities are greater in children who watch Sesame Street and other educational programming.
Age-appropriate shows can be instructive and entertaining for children of all ages, and can promote positive aspects of social behavior such as sharing, good manners, and cooperating with others. In addition, quality programming should spur a child's curiosity and eagerness to learn. According to the AAP, 70% of parents trust PBS for the best children's programming. Specific top program picks from parents include:
- Sesame Street
- Barney & Friends
- Mister Rogers' Neighborhood
- Lamb Chop's Play-Along
- Reading Rainbow