Toddlers’ parents embrace TV as part-time baby sitter

first_imgDaniel Anderson, a professor of psychology at University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said savvy pitches for products like BabyFirst TV and the Baby Einstein line of educational videos and DVDs have convinced parents that fixation on television is educational for young children, even though little research has been devoted to television’s effect on infants and toddlers. “The notion of sustained attention for many parents is a point of pride,” Anderson said. “Parents absolutely believe the marketing lines for these products, when the fact is that there is no real evidence yet of learning benefits.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2On a typical day 61 percent of babies 1 year or younger watch TV or videos, with average viewing of more than an hour, the study found. A third of children under 6 have a TV in their bedroom. And more than half of parents surveyed said their main reason for putting a TV in their child’s room was so that they or other family members could watch their own shows. “There has been this sense that it is kids clamoring for media and parents trying to hold back the tidal wave,” said Vicky Rideout, vice president of the Kaiser Foundation. “But what came out is that parents themselves are very enthusiastic about using media in their children’s lives. Many feel like they can’t make it through the day without the assistance it gives.” For most families surveyed, television is not a replacement for other activities, the study found. On a normal day, 83 percent of children read or are read to, the same percentage as those who watch TV or videos. But the increasing availability of programs aimed at young children – like BabyFirst TV, a new satellite and cable channel aimed at the under-3 set – is raising parents’ comfort level with electronic media and assuaging guilt over using television as a baby sitter. Kimberly Velasco, 25, mother of three girls, 4, 3 and 18 months, and a participant in the study, has the television in her daughters’ shared bedroom programmed to receive only the children’s channels from her satellite television service. Velasco, a dental surgical assistant who lives in Montgomery Village, Md., said she does not let the children watch more than an hour a day. But being able to confine them safely in front of the TV when she gets in from work and is rushing to cook dinner is a huge help. WASHINGTON – Sure, Sharae Sharp knows pediatricians say children under 2 should not watch TV. But the advice feels less than practical when she needs to scrub the bathroom floor or has a migraine and is craving an hour of silence. “Sometimes you just need some time,” said Sharp, 29, unapologetic about the 13-inch television she placed in her 3-year-old-daughter Taelor-Shanel’s room more than a year ago. Jennifer Beck-Wilson, 36, tends to agree with the Academy of Pediatrics. But with a 3-year-old son, a 15-month-old daughter and a full-time job, best intentions fall by the wayside. “There’s my philosophy and then there’s real life,” she said. The two are hardly alone. A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, in which both participated, found that despite increasing debate over the potentially harmful effects of television on young children, many parents believe that the benefits of a little tube time – whether for their children’s development or their own sanity – outweigh the risk of raising a generation of crib potatoes. last_img

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