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Too Much TV for Toddlers Spells Trouble

By Bridget Tyler on May 8th, 2010

Kids TelevisionI know this will shock everyone, but yet another study, this one published by American and Canadian researchers on Monday, is showing that watching a lot of TV isn’t good for children.  This study focused on 2 year olds.  Those who watched a lot of TV had lower math scores in school by age 10 and were more likely to be bullied.  They also weighed more and ate more snacks and soft drinks.

“The results support previous suggestions that early childhood television exposure undermines attention,” wrote Linda Pagani of the University of Montrealand colleagues at Bowling Green University in Kentucky and the University of Michigan.

It’s also possible, according to the study, that children who spend more time watching TV and less time playing with other kids are losing valuable opportunities to develop social skills, which may lead to social awkwardness later.

The study started with more than 2,000 children, who were also part of a larger study.  Parents reported how much TV their kids watched at age 2.5 and then again at age 4.5.  They then checked in with the children’s teachers and doctors when the kids were 10.

The study found that for every additional weekly hour of television at 29 months the kids showed a 7 percent drop in classroom attention and 6 percent drop in math skills.  That extra hour of television a week as a toddler also meant the child was 10 percent more likely to be bullied, exercised 13 percent less, weighed 5 percent more and ate 10 percent more snacks.

Every additional weekly hour of television at 29 months corresponded to a 7 percent drop in classroom attention and a 6 percent drop in math skills, the researchers found.

Pediatricians have long recommended no more than two hours per day of media screen exposure for kids over the age of two (and none, under that) but parents don’t seem to often follow these guidelines.

“Despite clear, age-specific recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics that discourage any screen media exposure during infancy and less than two hours per day beyond 2 years of age, parents show poor factual knowledge and awareness of such existing guidelines,” the researchers wrote.

Whether or not this study has managed to factor in other issues that may go along with excessive TV watching as a toddler – like absentee parenting, lack of adequate child care and fast food heavy diets – is unclear.

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