The AAP (American Academy of Paediatrics) once again issued a statement urging parents to limit the time children under the age of two spend in front of screens.
Back in 1999 when they first called on parents of young children to pretty much ban television and to fill out a 'media history' at their doctor's visits, the suggestion was a lot more stringent than it is today.
It seems that the AAP have taken a different approach to the issue this time, stating “Video screen time provides no educational benefits for children under age 2 and leaves less room for activities that do, like interacting with other people and playing.”
While this is all well and good, I have questions and I'm sure I'm not the only parent that does. The AAP are very firm that a child shouldn't watch TV when they're under two. So what happens to the child's brain between two years and two years and two days? Or is it not about a physical reaction that stops or starts at a certain age?
Or what if you've spent all morning at toddler group, have come home, had a nap, been for a walk to the park and now pop your tot in front of In The Night Garden while you get dinner started? Are you actively damaging brain cells by doing so? And is the effect the same if you let them watch home videos?
The AAP statement on TV an Toddlers says “Pediatricians strongly oppose targeted programming, especially when it's used to market toys, games, dolls, unhealthy food and other products to toddlers.” Which makes me wonder if that's not the core of the issue – the marketing to children, and the effect that has on them, long term. Is the AAP perhaps too soft to speak out against what is a multi-billion-choose- your-currency industry? I was horrified recently when my daughter apparently correctly identified a TV character on a friend's t-shirt: she'd seen that particular show one time at my in-laws house. I didn't even know the programme's name, much less the character!
I wish I could sit up on my high horse here and say my child never watches TV – and she never did until 18 months – but now she sometimes does. I'm very selective about what she watches, and more often than not it's a Disney Pixar film, rather than TV, and we avoid the channels with advertising on them, but am I damaging my child? I don't thinks so. But I wouldn't, or I wouldn't do it.
It all still makes me uncomfortable, really, and I'd love to know what the actual root of the concerns is?
Is it TV that's bad? Is it programming that's bad? Is it the lack of interaction? The placid sitting and lack of activity? What do you think?