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New Study: Infant TV Exposure Lowers Cognitive and Language Development

Posted Dec 08 2010 12:00am
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Photo:   AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by  treehouse1977 Just say NO to baby TV!

Just say NO to baby TV!

It’s not exactly a new discovery that early exposure to television causes a lag in infant language development , but a new study adds cognition to the equation.  Not only did the authors of this new study include duration of media viewing, as is commonly been the focus of such studies, but they considered content in the research.

Published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, the authors of “ Infant Media Exposure and Toddler Development ” concluded:

This study is the first, to our knowledge, to have longitudinally assessed associations between media exposure in infancy and subsequent developmental outcomes in children from families with low socioeconomic status in the United States. Findings provide strong evidence in support of the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations of no media exposure prior to age 2 years, although further research is needed.

Interestingly, the authors found “No significant associations were seen with exposure to young child–oriented educational or noneducational content.”  Three different types of content were studied, with only one showing negative associations.  This content was designed for adults or older children; however, as I don’t have access to the full study, I can only assume it was non-violent or non-sexual in nature, otherwise ethical issues would be raised.

This study did find “duration of media exposure at age 6 months was associated with lower cognitive development at age 14 months (unadjusted: r = –0.17, P < .01; adjusted: β = –0.15, P = .02) and lower language development (r = –0.16, P < .01; β = –0.16, P < .01).”

The message is clear from this study and many others:

  • Babies and toddlers should not be exposed to media.
  • Television should only be watched for short duration by preschoolers.
  • Only content specifically designed for the age of the child should be viewed.

Given all of the research, I wonder if at some point overexposure to television, including duration and inappropriate content, could be used as evidence of parental negligence.  Or could media companies targeting the youngest audience, such as BabyTV , be held accountable for knowingly harming the health of its targeted audience by its very existence and programming?  Somehow, I am reminded of Big Tobacco.

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