This is Your Baby on TV

How TV Affects Baby's BrainWhen you’re ready for a break, you may be tempted to set your infant in front of the television and take a moment for yourself.

You’re not alone. According to PBS, more than 43 percent of children under the age of two watch TV every day, and the television is on at least six hours a day in the average American household. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against television watching for children under the age of two, and the reasons why might surprise you.

Infants and toddlers need to have real-life social interactions with their caregivers. Allowing them to watch television takes away from that. Even having the TV on in the background can cause shorter attention spans and take away from conversations that would otherwise occur between the child and caregiver. According to TIME Magazine Online, babies hear 770 fewer words from an adult for every hour that the television in turned on. But language development isn’t the only thing that can be affected by television watching.

According to Dr. Pam Schiller, an early childhood specialist, a baby’s vision is developed between birth and 24 months. Television, along with e-readers and computers, can directly impact the way their vision is wired–strengthening certain neural pathways and weakening others. What this means is that in order for a babies eyes to concentrate on the flashing lights of a television screen, their eyes have to fire differently. The longer they spend watching television, the more their vision will be wired to look at flashing lights. This can cause concentration and even behavior problems as they get older, since their brain–now wired for television–can have difficulties concentrating on print media.

If you do choose to allow television, try to make it as infrequent as possible and hold off as long as you can. Even if your child is over two, take extra steps to make sure that television watching isn’t limiting their social interactions or taking the place of time spent playing outdoors.

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.

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