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No TV for toddlers, says AAP

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At their annual meeting this week in Boston, the American Academy of Pediatrics sent a strong message on its position regarding television viewing and young children. The group says it is urging parents to keep their children "screen free" during the first two years of life.

Television, video and computer programs - including ones purportedly designed for infants and toddlers - have no educational benefits for kids under two and even pose developmental risks, the AAP concludes based on research conducted since 1999.

The message is not a new one. The AAP first issued a statement discouraging television viewing for children under two more than a decade ago, but has now released a more definitive policy statement based on research data accumulated since then. Among their concerns is heavy media viewing by young children puts them at greater risk for language development delays once they start school, although the reason for this effect are not completely understood, AAP official said.

I’m going to admit right here that this recommendation won’t really change much in my house. I have kids above the age of two, and I would estimate their TV viewing is about an hour a day, most days. Occasionally more, much more, under certain circumstances (snow days, sick days).

But the message is important: TV is not a babysitter or a substitute for parenting. While some screen time to get you through the day may be helpful, remember to take time each day to read, converse and play with your kids.

What do you think of this recommendation? Do you allow your small children to watch television?