April 14, 2021

Letting infants watch TV can do more harm than good says wide-ranging international review

http://esciencenews.com/articles/2009/01/13/letting.infants.watch.tv.can.do.more.harm.good.says.wide.ranging.international.review

Published: Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A leading child expert is warning parents to limit the amount of television children watch before the age of two, after an extensive review published in the January issue of Acta Paediatrica showed that it can do more harm than good to their ongoing development. Professor Dimitri A Christakis, from the Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the University of Washington, USA, has also expressed considerable concerns about DVDs aimed at infants that claim to be beneficial, despite a lack of scientific evidence.

And he points out that France has already taken the matter so seriously that in summer 2008 the Government introduced tough new rules to protect the health and development of children under three from the adverse effects of TV.

Professor Christakis’ extensive review looked at 78 studies published over the last 25 years and reiterates the findings of numerous studies he has carried out with colleagues into this specialist area.

He points out that as many as nine in ten children under the age of two watch TV regularly, despite ongoing warnings, and some spend as much as 40 per cent of their waking hours in front of a TV.

“No studies to date have demonstrated benefits associated with early infant TV viewing” says Professor Christakis, whose review looked at the effect that TV has on children’s language, cognitive skills and attentional capacity, as well as areas for future research.

“The weight of existing evidence suggests the potential for harm and I believe that parents should exercise due caution in exposing infants to excessive media” he says.

“For example, the American Academy of Paediatrics discourages TV viewing in the first two years of life, but only six per cent of parents are aware of this advice despite ongoing publicity.”

Key findings of Professor Christakis’ review includes:

  • 29 per cent of parents who took part in a survey of 1,000 American families published in 2007 said they let their infants watch TV because they thought it was “good for their brains”. But claims made by manufacturers are not substantiated by peer-reviewed medical papers and industry studies.
  • Watching TV programmes or DVDs aimed at infants can actually delay language development, according to a number of studies. For example, a 2008 Thai study published in Acta Paediatrica found that if children under 12 months watched TV for more than two hours a day they were six times more likely to have delayed language skills. Another study found that children who watched baby DVDs between seven and 16 months knew fewer words than children who did not.
  • Infants as young as 14 months will imitate what they see on a TV screen, but they learn better from live presentations. For example, one study found that children learnt Mandarin Chinese better from a native speaker than they did from a video of the same speaker.
  • A study of 1,300 children conducted by the author and colleagues in 2004 found a modest association between TV viewing before the age of three and attentional problems at the age of seven, after a wide range of other factors were ruled out.
  • In another study, the author and colleagues looked at the effects of early TV viewing on cognitive development at school age. They found that children who had watched a lot of TV in their early years did not perform as well when they underwent tests to check their reading and memory skills.
  • More than one in five parents who took part in another study said that they got their infants to watch TV when they needed time to themselves. This, says the author, is an understandable and realistic need, but not one that should be actively promoted.

But why does television have such a negative effect on children of this age? “We believe that one reason is the fact that it exposes children to flashing lights, scene changes, quick edits and auditory cuts which may be over stimulating to developing brains” says Professor Christakis. “TV also replaces other more important and appropriate activities like playing or interacting with parents.”

There have been concerns about infants viewing TV for the last four decades but it has only been in recent years that studies have provided the empirical data to back up those concerns.

“The explosion in infant TV viewing and the potential risks associated with it raise several important policy implications” concludes Professor Christakis.

“First and foremost, the lack of regulation related to claims made by people promoting programmes and DVDs aimed at infants is problematic. Educational claims should, and can, be based on scientific data. Despite this, the names of the products and the testimonials they use often convince parents that TV viewing has a positive impact on their infants.

“Secondly, parents need to be better informed about what activities really do promote healthy development in young children. This may provide some defence against the aggressive marketing techniques being employed.

“Last, but not least, more resources need to be made available to fund critical research related to the effects of media on young children.”

Tom Freston, President of MTV

I have prevented my kids from watching MTV at home. It’s not safe for kids. – Tom Freston, President of MTV

Comments on Locked up for smacking my son … How a slap brought police and social services in to tear a family apart

From:

http://familyintegrity.org.nz/

 

7 April 2008 Family Integrity #365 — One family’s ordeal…

Dear Friends,

This is a terrible story.

The outrageous antics of the Police and the social welfare agents are bad enough. But they are not the only villains in this story.

Have a read:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/femail/article.html?in_article_id=557440&in_page_id=1879
The parenting practices of this apparently very typical family are also to blame. The practices, I believe, are quite common and typical. But let’s look a wee bit closer.

The children attended school. Simply being separated for at least 6 hours a day, 5 days a week will soon make the children strangers to their parents. In addition, we all know that children pick up all kinds of lousy messages and attitudes at school. Many teachers convey the anti-parent message that your parents are not allowed to force you to do anything, to discipline you or correct you. This is totally subversive of parental authority. So the first question: why do parents allow their children to attend these institutions where they are subject to such subversive propaganda? Probably the simplest answer is that the parents send their children to school in good faith and have no idea whatsoever as to what is going on. The typical answer to, “What did you do and learn at school today, Johnny?” is “Nothing.” Application: get your children out of such institutions. Ideally teach them at home or find a private school you can thoroughly trust.

The children were allowed computers in their rooms as well as other games and entertainment technology. That means a fair bit of what they did was unsupervised. Children need guidance in these areas. If the computers were connected to Internet, this was indeed a very foolish thing to do, leaving the children to surf the Internet unsupervised. Application: never let children have unsupervised time on internet and never let them have their own computer or TV in their rooms. This is just the same as leaving stacks of pornography magazines, books and films in their rooms. How can one be surprised if they then come out with vile speech and disobedient and disrespectful attitudes?

The children were allowed to develop friendships, spend lots of time and even stay over night at the homes of people the parents did not approve of. Again, this is incredibly foolish. Why do parents do this? Again, they do so in good faith, do not want to appear snooty or arrogant, want to apprear friendly and non-discriminatory toward neighbours, for after all, they are neighbours. (Actually we’re not sure if they were neighbours or not.) But the strongest influence that caused the parents to have such a hands-off approach to the shepherding of their children was that such an approach is what society today demands. Application: tell society and its demands to jump in a lake: your children are your responsibility and you must raise them according to what you believe is right. If you do not approve of certain people, do not let your children associate with them. This is impossible if they attend school, of course, so again home education is nearly essential. We must say more: if you disapprove of this or that, you must be clear about this to your children and explain why. More than that, you must approve, and even demand, behaviour and standards that you want to see in your family. Schooling institutions no longer propagate the higher standards of our Traditional Western Christian Civilization, but today they socialise everyone to a politicised list of so-called commonly held set of values. That is the formal curriculum. The hidden curriculum (what goes on behind the bike sheds and at recess and behind teacher’s back) socialises all to the lowest common denominator…and this is getting lower all the time.

The children were allowed to get away with saying “F…off, you cow,” to their mother who would give a few warnings about such language. Such language should have been rooted out years ago. Again, it is nearly impossible to do this if the children are at school, but at the very least they could have learned to never use that language at home, but only at school, as I did as a kid. But to tolerate them saying such things to their own mother is unbelievable. But then, the father did say the same thing to a social worker. Sure he was under duress, but it was a terrible example. The application is: don’t use language or act in ways you don’t want to see replicated in your own children. They need to know exactly where the boundaries are and that you will be swift and sure about enforcing the boundaries. Swift and sure about enforcement. Here we are up against it as the re-write of Section 59 categorically forbids parents from correcting or disciplining their children. It would seem the law we have is designed to prevent parents from doing their duty toward their children and to give children license to be as disrespectful and disobedience as they like.

So, the police and social welfare agents in this story were abominable, but they were following the trends and policies of their superiors. This is bad, and NZer will be suffering such interventions more and more. But none of this would have happened if the parents had closer relations with their children, if the family had been operating as a unit instead of as a collection of individuals living, most of the time, under the same roof. The parents and children were clearly NOT on the same page. Application: train your chldren to recognise that the agents of the state are sadly no longer to be trusted, but that they will divide, conquer and destoy your family, your reputations, your future employment prospects and even your ability to travel. So children must stick close to parents and stick up for them and never, never divulge to others outside your four walls what goes on inside your four walls. Your family’s private family life is no business of anyone else. If authorities come around and start getting nosey, you must all be agreed that “Silence is golden.” Simply say nothing — NOTHING — to any of these agents.

As this story dramatically illustrates, the state agents (schooling institutions, police, social workers) used the tactics of divide and conquer plus their privileged position of using force, to damage this family. Don’t let it happen to you.

Regards,

Craig Smith
National Director
Family Integrity
PO Box 9064
Palmerston North
New Zealand
Ph: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
Family.Integrity@xtra.co.nz
http://www.FamilyIntegrity.org.nz

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