The Relationship between Children and Television

Your mother probably told you that television would rot your brain; she also probably plopped you down in front of the “idiot box” when she needed a moment of peace or a free hand.  I didn’t know that I would ever become such a critic of allowing young children to watch television, but scientific research – combined with the advice of many a mother – compels me to join the “No TV” team.   Yes, television is an easy babysitter; no, it is not a viable, healthy alternative to physical interaction.  If you need to keep your child busy, provide him or her with large, connectable blocks (the preschooler’s Legos).  Children need toys that encourage them to problem-solve and manipulate objects.  Through tactile experiences, children learn to relate with the world.  Time in front of the television might be a quick-fix for an agitated child, but it also “replaces time that could be spent engaging in other developmentally enriching activities and tasks, which foster cognitive, behavioral, and motor development” (Science Daily).

Imagine the static on this television screen as your child's brain; TV can scramble children's ability to interact and problem solve positively and proactively.

A recent study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, from experts at the Universite de Montreal, Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center and the University of Michigan, found “that television exposure at age two forecasts negative consequences kids, ranging from poor school adjustment to unhealthy habits” (Science Daily). Spending time in front of the television affects children in myriad negative ways: classroom engagement decreases, math achievement decreases, victimization by classmates increases, weekend and general physical activity decrease, soft drink and snack consumption increases and, perhaps unsurprisingly, so, too, does Body Mass Index (BMI).

NPR’s Zorba Paster discussed the Canadian study on-air on Saturday, 22 May 2010. Dr. Paster pronounced television for young children to be a bad idea, going so far as to say, “TV makes you stupid.” Dr. Paster even discredits Baby Einstein, beloved by many well-intentioned parents; there is absolutely no substitute for human interaction.  You can listen to Dr. Paster’s entire Saturday, 22 May 2010 show here, or download the podcast from Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR).  Canadian scientists are asking you not to subject your child to needless television exposure, particularly at a young, vulnerable ago;   so, too, are renowned doctor Zorba Paster and Brainjogging.  Please, allow your child’s mind to develop in a way that will not compromise its abilities!  You’ll be doing yourself and, more importantly, your child, an enormous favor.

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