The best thing I ever taught my kids, after potty training and “Don’t stick that in your nose,” is to turn off the TV after they’re done watching it.Now before you go thinking I’m one of those moms who thinks that TV will melt your kid’s brain, preferring instead to read poetry to them over carrot sticks in the meadow, I’m not. I love me my TV, but nearly as much as I love my Tivo. While some people relax after a hard day with a glass of wine, I chill out with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
But I’ve long thought that TV as background noise is not a good thing for anyone, let alone my kids, and that it generally leads everyone to absent-mindedly sing the 1-800-Mattress theme song.
Anyhow, the journal Pediatrics has once again confirmed what I’ve always known: Background television in the homes of children is not a good thing. A new study in the October 2012 issue found that U.S. children from 8 months to 8 years are exposed to nearly four hours of background TV each day:
“Exposure to background television (i.e. times when the television is on but the child is attending to another activity) is negatively associated with children’s cognitive functioning and social play.”
So while you’re watching “Here Comes Honey, Boo Boo” as your four-year-old colors nearby, your child might be affected in a number of ways, says the study:
- Lower sustained attention during playtime
- Lower quality parent-child interactions
- Reduced performance on cognitive tasks
- They might ask for “go-go juice.”*
The younger the children, the more hours of background TV they are exposed to, prompting the study’s researchers to add, laughably:
“At present, no specific research has investigated the reasons why background TV exposure is so high for infants/toddlers. It may be that parents of these children are looking for extra stimulation when home with their young children.”
Clearly, the researchers have never spent every day in and day out, all day long, with infants or toddlers, wondering why in the hell we have “Fall Back,” because sure as sugar, we don’t need yet another hour in the day, God help me.
The study concludes that parents should keep TVs out of their children’s bedrooms and turn off the TV when no one’s looking at it. There was no research on the specific affects of watching “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” though that’s a study I’d like to see performed.
*not a conclusion of the study, but deposited from my own imagination.