I was especially interested because Abby is certainly no stranger to the television and computer. We check out the Baby Einstein videos from the library and other Spanish language and sign language videos. And I'll admit to occaisionally (perhaps daily...) using Sesame Street and nursery rhyme Youtube videos in one window on the computer screen to distract Abby while I check my email in another window.
The first piece in the journal is a "review article" which summarizes the state of research in child psychology in a particular area. The main points:
- Babies under 18 months usually don't understand much of what they see on the TV.
- After 18 months, they begin to understand what they see, but they still "prefer to connect with humans and learn more effectively from them under most circumstances."
- After 18 months, education television programming can help children learn language, if it's done effectively (like Dora, Blues Clues, etc.).
- Having the TV on in the background does distract babies from playing with toys and other children.
- If the TV program is directored toward babies and toddlers, they learn more if the parents watches the program with them and talks to them about it.
- If the TV program is directed toward adults, "interaction between parent and child is diminished."
- Viewing television does not cause ADHD in children, unless they watch more than seven hours per day. And even then there's only been an association demonstrated and the causal link is not yet been proven.
The authors of the article summarize their findings by saying that TV-watching among babies and toddlers doesn't really hurt them, but it doesn't really help either. Just like adults, it can be entertaining, but the educational value of videos like "Baby Einstein" has not yet been successfully demonstrated. They recommend that if adults allow their children to view television, that they choose age-appropriate materials and watch the programs with them and provide feedback as they go along.