TV and Your Toddler’s Attention Span
By Mark Brandenburg
Millions of kids under the age of two are watching TV in this country. In fact, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation of over 1,000 parents, about 65 percent of kids under age two are watching TV, and they're averaging over two hours of watching a day.
They're watching even though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV for kids under age two. They're watching even though this is a crucial period for their cognitive development, at an age when their brains are still being formed.
The news about these kids just got worse.
Scientists at Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, who studied over 2,500 children, found a link between early TV watching and attention problems at a later age. Specifically, the chances of one- to three-year-old kids developing attention problems at age seven increased by 10 percent for every hour of TV watched each day.
The information from these two studies creates a chilling picture of what's happening to millions of toddlers in this country. It's unfair, immoral and unjust, and it needs to be addressed.
Where is the outcry?
But you won't see an outcry from the mass media giants in this country. You see, we live in the country where "Why TV is Good for Kids" appeared as the cover story in Newsweek Magazine in 2002 — the same Newsweek Magazine that's owned by the Washington Post Company, which owns a sprawling cable company and six broadcast stations around the country.
No, you won't hear too much about these important studies from the Time-Warners of the world. Bad for business, you see. But if you're the parent of a young child, it's much more than that. It's the possibility of permanently affecting your child's health.
There are about nine million children who take prescription medication for ADHD in this country. The number of kids who take ADHD medication has been doubling every two years. And while TV certainly isn't the culprit in all of these cases, the link between attention problems and TV viewing is too strong to ignore.
The days of the "harmless" argument for TV and kids needs to be put to rest. Parents need to be educated about the very real possibility of causing future attention problems for their kids. And young kids across this country need to be given a fighting chance.
© Mark Brandenburg
Mark Brandenburg, MA, CPCC, CSC, is an author, speaker and certified relationship coach. He has worked with individuals, teams and families to improve their lives for more than 20 years. He is the author of a number of books for men, including 25 Secrets of Emotionally Intelligent Fathers. Mark coaches parents from around the country through weekly telephone coaching sessions on balancing their lives and improving their parenting. He runs workshops and gives presentations for fathers and for parents that are enthusiastically received, as well as teleclasses for parents at MarkBrandenburg.com.