The Impact Of Background TV

(Photo source: flickr – szeretlek)

I came across a number of articles regarding a new study, published in the July/August issue of Child Development. The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts. They looked at group of 50 children, who were aged from 1 to 3 years.

In this research, children came to a laboratory playroom with a parent. Each child was invited to play with toys for an hour. During half of that time a television was turned on remotely in the room, playing an episode of Jeopardy! that included commercials.

Dr. Daniel Bronfin, a pediatrician with the Ochsner Health System in New Orleans and senior author of th study concluded that:

“All of the concerns we have with children watching programming for children still apply to secondhand viewing. It distracts from the work of childhood, from play,”

The Washington Post was one of the news agencies reporting on the study and HealthDay Reporter Serena Gordon reported the following findings:

Even if young children aren’t watching the TV, it may be distracting them from their play and depriving them of developing critical attention skills

Children’s play episodes were shorter — about half as long — if the TV was on, compared to when it wasn’t, [and] children were more likely to move from toy to toy during the time TV was on

WebMD also reported on the study and noted the following about it:

In background information published alongside the findings, researchers write that child development experts contend that imaginative play is crucial to healthy cognitive and social skills development.

Researchers from this study speculate that constant background TV sound and fleeting images may interrupt that healthy development.

While obviously I did not know any of this research information, we made a decision when our first child was only a baby, not to have the television on in the background and later on to have set TV times. It was for the adults as much as the children. I felt that the children deserved to have my whole attention, not a small fraction that I could spare away from the TV. This is the same reasoning that I avoid where possible working on the computer around the children as well, utilising, sleep times and time when dad is around so they have an available adult.

How do you manage the TV in your home? Or have you gone completely cold turkey and don’t have a TV? Part of me would really like to do this, but even though I don’t watch a lot of TV, I can’t seem to let go! I would love to hear what you do.