For some time, the American Academy of Pediatrics have recommended that babies under age 2 watch no TV at all. A recent study following 259 lower-income families in New York has added fuel to this recommendation. They found that babies who watch TV are more likely to have delayed cognitive development and language at 14 months, especially if they're watching programs intended for adults and older children.
Many people find it surprising that TV-watching made a difference at such a tender age. Babies who watched 60 minutes of TV daily had developmental scores one-third lower at 14 months than babies who weren't watching that much TV. The developmental scores are still considered to be in the normal range, but a third lower than babies not watching that much TV.
What the electronic babysitter doesn't offer:
When kids and parents are watching TV, they're missing out on talking, playing, and interactions that are essential to learning and development. Researchers at New York University School of Medicine-Bellevue Hospital Center, has found that parents whose children watch non-educational TV programs like Spongebob SquarePants spend less time reading to their children or teaching them. It's missing out on activities like these that are causing the developmental scores of babies to go down.
But what about "good" TV, like Sesame Street?
The researchers didn't find any pluses or minuses when compared to non-educational programs designed for small children, like SpongeBob SquarePants. Most parents reading this are probably saying D'oh! TV is so often your good friend, keeping kids happily occupied so you can cook dinner, answer the phone, or take a shower. But the results are conclusive. Clearly the TV is not an educational aid.
So if the TV is currently entertaining your 2 year old or younger, go turn it off and read them a book because TV watching not only isn't educational, but it seems to stunt babies' development.