TV for tots may do more harm than good, MD says

Updated Thu. Jan. 15 2009 8:15 AM ET
The Canadian Press

A Seattle pediatrician says television programs geared towards infants, like those popular “Baby Einstein” DVDs, may be doing your baby more harm than good.

Dr. Dimitri Christakis, who has reviewed 78 studies done over 25 years, says television with its quick edits, bold colours, sounds and flashing lights,
overstimulates kids under the age of two.

He says it could at least partially explain why there has been a tenfold increase in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD, in the
past 20 years.

Christakis says that “despite ongoing warnings” from the American Academy of Pediatrics, nine out of 10 children under the age of two watch television on
a regular basis.

He says in 1971, children started watching television at an average age of four — now, the average age kids start watching TV is four to five months.

But he says scientists are partly to blame for the trend of baby-focused TV programming because while they’ve correctly informed parents that the early
years are important, the result is neurotic parents who are obsessed with having smart children.

Christakis says that, in turn, has spawned industries which prey on people’s obsessions and fears.

“The truth is that we’re in the midst of a large, uncontrolled experiment on the next generation of children,” he said. “We’re not going to know for years
what the effects of all this exposure to TV will mean, in a scientific sense. But I’m concerned that we’re not going to be pleased with the results.”

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