I’ve always thought that the expert warnings against children watching excess TV might be based on bogus presumptions. Yes, it is possible that TV is making children dumber, but it is also possible that parents who let their children sit for hours in front of Nick Jr. are neglecting them intellectually. In other words, it may not be the TV itself that is retarding the mind, but more likely the lack of parental interaction.
Backing up my amateur theory, a recent Harvard study has been published in Pediatrics showing that the amount of television watched by children under the age of two doesn’t affect their intelligence at age three. In this study of 872 children, television posed neither harm nor benefit. Initially, the results showed a correlation between excess television and low test scores, but the link disappeared when adjusting for several socioeconomic factors.
This brings me back to my point that the children of higher educated parents are more likely to have a supplement of reading and interaction. It’s not the TV that is doing the harm. I’ll be interested to see if the researchers follow up this study to determine if the neutral effects remain as the children age, or if there is a regression among the excess television group.
I do let my daughters watch some television, but lately they’ve been on a TV diet. Their behavior seems better (less selfish, less whiny) when they are restricted. However, I do not want to feel guilty every time I allow them to watch an episode of Sid the Science Kid or, god forbid, a Disney movie. France has banned television programming directed at pre-school children. I think there are a whole lot of adults who were once raised on huge helpings of Big Bird and Cookie Monster that would disagree with France.
What do you think?