May 4th, 2010
Too much time in front of the tube as a two-year-old can predict some negative consequences at the age of 10, a new study suggests.
Researchers studied more than 1,300 children in Quebec and found that higher TV exposure as toddlers corresponded to less achievement in math, an increase in being victimized by classmates and less physical activity at age 10.
The children also had a higher likelihood of consuming more junk food and soft drinks and of having a higher body mass index, according to the study published Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Parents reported their kids’ viewing habits at age 29 months and at 53 months as part of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development. Teachers were asked to evaluate the students’ academic, psychosocial and health habits, and body mass index was measured at 10 years old.
Researcher Linda Pagani, a psychosocial professor at the University of Montreal, says the bottom line is that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV from birth to age two, and no more than two hours a day after that.
If parents aren’t following these guidelines, then their kids are missing out on other opportunities, she said.
“There’s only 24 hours in the day, and the early childhood period is a period of brain expansion,” said Pagani, who also works at the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre.
“But that brain expansion occurs in the context of a lot of interaction with one’s environment — playing, talking, interacting, making intellectual effort — because your brain is like a muscle, and if you don’t use it, it’s less fit for more muscular activity later on.”
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