Friday, February 17, 2006

Is TV really bad for kids?

Here's an article from Slate that describes research done by two economists from University of Chicago. The research questions the conventional wisdom that TV is bad for kids.

How will we ever raise our kids to be perfectly informed well-behaved polite little angels if every day the conventional wisdom changes?


Blogger Jessica said...

I wish they could figure out some way to measure how much energy I waste on needless parental guilt.

7:39 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

The study discussed in this article doesn't really provide any more convincing evidence than all the studies dismissed.
In my mind here's the point: if you want to have the video babysitter available from time to time, just own it. We can frequently get more done, enjoy our houseguests more, etc, if we can distract our child with the television for a little while. You run into trouble when you really believe that those Baby Einstein videos are doing more for your child than you could do by interacting.

7:07 PM  
Anonymous rebecca said...

I mostly agree with you, Andrea, and I freely admit that I sometimes use a video babysitter. (I'm sad to say my 2-yr-old daughter recently said, "Am I watching a movie because you need to grade papers?")

But, I am surprised sometimes that she learns something from tv. We don't do Baby Einstein, but I think she learned to count in part from Sesame Street. When Kate could barely talk, I had her watch Sesame Street while I was grading papers. Right after the program, she counted to five. (Then I got excited and started counting all the time, but I give the program a little credit for sparking something.)

7:02 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

I would never suggest that kids don't learn from TV, merely that they aren't learning more quickly from TV than they would from us. When I wrote that comment, I was thinking about a family member who truly believes he is giving his 7 month old child a head start by getting a few hours a day of baby einstein in.
That said, TV sparking parental interest in a particular educational activity - like counting - is interesting. In my reading on television, I didn't come across anything that looks at that. Definitely a good point!

7:16 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

This is probably obvious, but I think that TV learning works especially well when parents know what their kids are watching and, for instance, get all excited when they start counting.

Thanks to "Go, Diego, Go," Gus knows way more than any 2-year-old ought to about the following animals: scarlet macaws, Blue Morpho butterflies, humpback whales, and jaguars. And I learned something about them too. Plus, it really is kind of fun when we walk around with our backs bent like humpback whales together....

8:01 PM  
Blogger think-knitter said...

I actually thought that the article provides some convincing evidence for the proposition that TV doesn't necessarily harm children. It wasn't advocating that we stop spending time with our kids and put them in front of the TV, nor was it saying that kids get a head start by watching TV at 7 months. It seemed to me that its only message was that TV doesn't harm kids as much as the existing studies would have us think.

10:11 AM  
Anonymous rebecca said...


Thanks for posting the article.

And I can't help but smile when I think of that cutie Gus being a humpback whale.

1:18 PM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Earlier today I was reading "Everything Bad is Good for You." I don't know how well researched it is, as I was skimming it, really, and as I am generally sleep-deprived, but it's relevant to this issue so I thought I'd mention it. Good night!

1:53 AM  
Blogger Jessica said...

Did you see today's story, that a new study did not show any link between TV watching and ADHD?

4:48 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

Just found your blog.... I have no problem admitting that I love TV. It is one nearly 24/7 when I am at home and inside. I watched TV a lot when I was a kid (my mom was a working mom, too). But, I was also a straight-A student, I read voraciously, was very active in sports and other activities outside. I learned a lot from TV. My son is only one year old so he's too young to really "watch" TV but I do not buy into the claim that it causes ADHD, not do buy the moral and religious "no-no's" that so many warn us about. Too much of anything can be bad, I suppose. But so can focusing only on the negative things. I like Andrea's comment to "just own it".

10:34 AM  
Anonymous earn money at home said...

I don't think TV is as bad as it's made out to be especially if your children are watching age appropriate material. For instance, I let my 1 1/2 year old daughter watch Nick Jr quite often while she plays in the living room. The station even says "it’s like preschool on TV." I work from home making party/occasion favors and my daughter enjoys watching a little TV while I help earn some income for our family.

2:33 PM  

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