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TV Recommendations for Babies and Toddlers

OPB | Oct. 21, 2011 9:15 a.m. | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 10:45 p.m.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has come out with TV recommendations for babies and toddlers — in short: turn off the TV for kids under two and limit viewing for all children. If you think that sounds familiar, you’re right. Those are the same recommendations that came out more than a decade ago. One key difference is that over that time, a proponderence of scientific research has been conducted to back up those recommendations. So says, professor of medicine Dimitri Christakis. He’s a prominent researcher at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital and specializes in this area of research.

The other notable difference, says Christakis, is that over this same period, the amount of viewing by young children has gone up. He says 90 percent of children two or younger regularly watch TV. That’s the age where Christakis says there are few, if any, educational benefits from any kind of television programming.

It was his research that brought the educational benefits of “Baby Einstein” products into question a few years ago. Christakis’ main message is not meant to shame or scare parents wondering how much TV is OK — or even suggest that significant harm will come to your baby from a bit of Bugs Bunny or SpongeBob. It’s more about the habits that both children and parents form around TV — and other kinds of screens.

Are you a parent of a young child? Are you a childcare provider? How much TV do your children watch? Do these new recommendations affect how you approach screen time for yourself or your child?

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