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Videos and Children

January 5, 2010
Times Observer
BY MARY C. ROCKEY, PH. D., BCBA, DIRECTOR OF PUPIL SERVICES, RANDOLPH CENTRAL SCHOOL

On September 4, 2009, the Disney Corporation recalled its’ Baby Einstein Videos and the recall hit the press in October of this year. The videos had been available for over ten years and won many awards in the “best of” category for babies and toddlers. Why then, did the company recall them?

Some say it’s because Disney succumbed to the pressure of parent groups who lobbied the company regarding TV being bad for babies. Others say that the evidence is pointing in the direction of attention problems in our children.

Let’s look at the facts. The American Association of Pediatrics says: “Children of all ages are constantly learning new things. The first two years of life are especially important in the growth and development of your child's brain. During this time, children need good, positive interaction with other children and adults. Too much television can negatively affect early brain development. This is especially true at younger ages, when learning to talk and play with others is so important. Until more research is done about the effects of TV on very young children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend television for children age two or younger. For older children, the Academy recommends no more than 1 to 2 hours per day of educational, nonviolent programs.” One has to ask themselves if a prestigious group would come out so strongly if there wasn’t something that caused alarm.

How does TV effect brain development? There are several ways including: It steals time away from a baby’s natural way of learning, through interaction and exploration of the environment. Young children learn by touching, tasting and seeing the world around them. They learn from you talking to them, singing to them and holding them. TV cannot do these things.

Research continues in the area of early TV exposure and attention problems in children as they age. While there is no conclusive proof yet, the work of many researchers is indicating that there may be a link. The American Academy of Pediatrics is among those who believe there is.

Maybe the recall isn’t such a bad idea. With the large surge of children on medication in our schools for ADHD, wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that we can stop the epedemic by eliminating or decreasing the viewing of TV by our babies, toddlers and children.

Mary Rockey, Ph.D., BCBA is the Director of Pupil Service at Randolph Central School.

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