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Crabby babies and toddlers watch more television

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Does bad behavior lead to more TV time? Or is it the other way around? According to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, crabby, fussy babies and toddlers watch more TV than babies with no or little issues.

Study author Dr. Jenny Radskey, from Boston Medical Center says, "We found that babies and toddlers whose mothers rated them as having self-regulation problems – meaning, problems with calming down, soothing themselves, settling down to sleep, or waiting for food or toys – watched more TV and videos when they were age 2. Infants with self-regulation problems watched, on average, about 9 minutes more media per day than other infants. This may seem small, but screen-time habits are established in these early years."

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says, "Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age two a child's brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens."

Radskey says the infants and toddlers who had the worst behavior were 40% more likely to exceed guidelines.

What's not clear, according to Radskey, is whether they watched more TV because they were fussy and their parents put them in front of the TV as a distraction, or if the TV use caused their problems.

Researchers say several studies show too much screen time before age 2 or 3 is associated with language and learning delays, ADHD, and difficulties in school.

Dr. Penny Glass, director of child development programs at Children's National Health System in Washington says, "You do not develop socially if your primary interest is watching TV. It's a skill developed with practice."

Glass says if you have a toddler who has problems self-regulating, "Get help early on. Because using TV as an answer is not going to solve the problem; they are more likely to end up with a bigger problem."

What do you think? Is it okay for children under age 2 to watch TV?

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