For years, professional researchers as well as parents and teachers have been tackling the topic of what television does to children’s development. Many people have been under the impression that TV is not harmful to young brains and provides distractions and entertainment when needed, but studies completed in the last couple years have challenged that belief. Researchers have conducted hundreds of experiments trying to prove what’s right for kids. One common outcome is that children under the age of two should not be exposed to TV because there is a higher chance they will have developmental issues. Television can damage the brain development of young children because it doesn’t provide them with the necessary skills they learn by interacting in face to face communication.
In the earliest stages of life, proper brain development is very crucial, and the biggest influence on this development is the actions of the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the newborn child. What a child is and isn’t exposed to in the first years of life can negatively or positively affect a child’s future development. In an article published by The National Center for Infants, Toddlers, Families, the author explained that “Infants prefer human stimuli-your face, voice, touch, and even smell--over everything else. They innately orient to people's faces and would rather listen to a speech or singing than any other kind of sound.” Videos and TV aren’t prefered by babies and doesn’t help with their initial brain development. Face to face interaction helps children learn different skills like identifying sounds, facial expressions, and different senses while TV doesn’t provide any of these skills. Without these vital initial skills, proper brain development could be jeopardized.
Despite the debate about the affect of children and technology, many parents, daycares, and child care facilities use television to keep young children occupied. Most of these people don’t want to bring harm to the children, but they might be tricked into believing that TV produced for children will help. Dr. Cris Rowan, a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, wrote an article giving information into the use of technology on young children. He says, “This situation has prompted France to ban its broadcasters from airing TV shows aimed at children under three years of age (CBC News, 2008), and Disney to offer refunds for their “Baby Einstein” DVD‟s (NY Times, 2009).” “Baby TV” is popular among parents with small children who think that these programs will improve their child’s intelligence, but many of these shows do not show improvement at all. In fact, they affect a child’s brain development negatively. Even France saw the harm in TV for infants and banned the “Baby TV” shows and offers refunds to the famous baby program “Baby Einstein”.
Doctors and scientists haven’t found health effects from technology in children younger than two, but they have found them in older children. Infants watching TV can lead to long term effects that might not be detected until they are almost ready for school. An article published by the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics stated,” Media use has been associated with obesity, sleep issues, aggressive behaviors, and attention issues in preschool- and school-aged children . . . Although parents perceive a televised program to be a calming sleep aid, some programs actually increase bedtime resistance, delay the onset of sleep, cause anxiety about falling asleep, and shorten sleep duration.” Obesity, sleep issues, aggressive behavior, and many other issues are very serious. These problems bring stress to parents and kids and frustrate them because they know that something could have been done earlier in the child’s life to prevent it. When technology is used in such young children, important pieces they need for growth are missing and are expressed at an older age. Early proper interaction with infants can make their development stronger and improve their skills later in life.
If parents stopped to think about it, they would realize that the effects of TV on children under the age of two is not just about their developmental issues down the road, but about their interaction with other people as well. Even though Baby TV claims to be doing good for children to become smarter, it does not help children interact with each other. As a result, when children eventually go to school, and have been exposed to Baby TV earlier in their lives, they have a harder time interacting face to face with other children. Television and technology are amazing things, but when used improperly, can be harmful. Infants under the age of two should not be exposed to any type of technology because their is a risk of harmful brain development that may appear later in life. Babies at that age need hands-on interaction to develop good skills later on in life but things like “Baby TV”, that claim to make babies smarter, do the exact opposite.
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