Last week came word that Baby Einstein videos marketed to parents wanting to brain up their children were a fraud and complete refunds were to be offered to parents who bought the product.
This week is news that not only were those videos not helping your infants get smarter, they were probably having the reverse effect.
Physicians are signing on to a recommendation that no television be watched by children under the age of two. Zero screen time. None.
Dr. Tom Warshawski, who is head of pediatrics at Kelowna General Hospital, said repeated studies have shown the problems linked to television viewing, including obesity and an increase in violent activity.
Warshawski, who is member of the B.C. Pediatric Society, said a typical two-year-old is awake about 12 hours a day, and two hours of screen time will cut their development time by close to 15 per cent.
“It’s somewhat artificial, but we do know that the first two or three years of life are periods of rapid brain growth,” he said.
It is widely believed the passive act of watching television interferes with this normal development, he said.
Which is getting more and more difficult for parents to control. Kids aren’t consuming less media, they’re consuming more.
More than an entire day — that’s how long children sit in front of the television in an average week, according to new findings released Monday by Nielsen.
The amount of television usage by children reached an eight-year high, with kids ages 2 to 5 watching the screen for more than 32 hours a week on average and those ages 6 to 11 watching more than 28 hours. The analysis, based on the fourth quarter of 2008, measured children’s consumption of live and recorded TV, as well as VCR and game console usage.
“They’re using all the technology available in their households,” said Patricia McDonough, Nielsen’s senior vice president of insights, analysis and policy. “They’re using the DVD, they’re on the Internet.”
I have to admit, we exposed Zacharie to television as an infant, falling for the Baby Einstein marketing. I would guess he’s up around 21 hours a week when you factor in morning and evening playtime as the tv fills noise in the background churning out Sesame Street, CBC Kids, Max and Ruby and Dancing With The Stars (all programs he loves).
And it’s not just the TV that he’s riveted to.
Zacharie loves watching videos on YouTube from my iPhone, on my lap at the computer or cranking out his own media on a portable video player like the Creative Zen Vision.
I’m in serious violation of all of the above. We still get into his playroom and run around with trains, we read books and escape to the park as often as possible, but that tv still acts as a pacifier when we as parents need to get something done.