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Friday 28th October 2016

TV for toddlers can 'cause harm'

4th May 2010

Children who watch television at age two-and-a-half are more likely to be bullied at school, and have a harder time learning maths.


Linda Pagani, a professor of psycho-education at the Universite de Montreal and a researcher at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Center in Montreal, said that watching TV in early childhood had a far-reaching effect upon people's development.

By observing toddlers develop over eight years, the researchers found that there was a direct correlation between the amount of TV children are allowed to watch and their development in school.

The researchers found that toddlers who watch several hours of television per day were more likely to become obese and have many more learning difficulties than toddlers who did not.

The study also found that toddlers who watched TV were less likely to take part in physical activities, and were more likely to eat junk food.

For the study, the researchers quizzed the parents of 1,300 children between the ages of two and four.

The children's academic performance and body mass index (BMI) were measured when they reached 10 years of age.

Families whose toddlers watched more than two hours of television per day had a 7% decrease in school performance and were 10% more likely to be bullied.

Pagani said that a child's toddler years were a critical period for brain development and behaviour formation.

She said that high levels of TV consumption during a child's toddler years led to future unhealthy habits, and that the impact of early TV viewing was not lessened after children reached the age of 10.

For the purposes of the study, researchers assumed that one hour was the average amount children would spend watching television.

Every additional hour children spent watching television between the ages of two and four correlated to a 6% drop in maths skills and a 7% drop in classroom engagement.

Pagani said that a child's early years were intertwined with attention, and that a weak link in that chain of events could undermine development.

She said that she believed the reason why toddlers who watched TV ended up being bullied more had to do with the passivity of the activity, and that screen-based forms of entertainment kept children from developing social skills.

Rahil Briggs, director of the Healthy Steps at Montefiore Medical Center, said that parents relied on TV as a babysitter when they were overworked, exhausted, and highly stressed.

She said that parents who needed a break should take their children to the park, or find other ways for the children to interact with things around them.


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