Healthy Children - January 2012


Doctors Discourage Media Use

In 1999, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discouraged TV viewing for children under the age of 2. They say talking, reading and creative play help young children learn. New research supports AAP’s statement. Doctors still urges parents to keep children under age 2 as “screen-free” as possible.

Children have access to TV at home, in daycare and even in cars. Surveys report that:

  • 90% of parents say their children under age 2 watch some sort of media.
  • Almost 1/3 of 3-year olds have a TV in their bedroom.
  • Many families report having a TV on at least 6 hours per day.
  • 39% of families with infants and young children have their TV on all the time.


New research shows that:

  • Many video programs for infants are labeled as educational. No evidence supports these claims. Children under age 2 cannot grasp the content of the programs. They are unable to pay attention.
  • Media use does not help with language skills in children under the age of 2. In fact, studies show negative effect.
  • Parents in a room with the TV on have decreased parent/child interaction. Children need “talk time” with parents and adults.
  • Background television distracts a young child’s attention during play.
  • Children younger than 5 years of age who watch TV spend less time in creative play. They do not interact as much with parents or siblings.
  • Parents in homes with heavy media spend less parent-child reading time.


Young children learn best when they interact with humans, not screens. They AAP tells parents to:

  • Set media limits for children under age 2.
  • Provide unstructured playtime for your child.
  • Let your child play safely near you if you cannot actively play with her.
  • Keep a TV out of your child’s bedroom.
  • Realize your media use can have a negative effect on your child.