Kids Under 2 Should Not Watch TV, Experts Say

Kids under 2 years old should not be in front of the tube, instead they should be encouraged to talk and play, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced today.

There is no scientific evidence that show TV viewing in young children shows any benefit in early development, the AAP announced. In fact, studies have shown that TV can cause sleep problems in children, the country’s largest organization of pediatricians noted. The new policy statement will be published in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics.

But a recent survey found that 90 percent of parents said their children watch some sort of screen from electronic media.

“There have been studies that have looked at developmental health effects of TV in children, including language delays and disruptive sleep,” Dr. Ari Brown, a pediatrician and lead author of the guidelines, told “Unstructured play time has been proven to be beneficial for critical thinking skills that kids need for life, so this is time better spent.”

Brown noted that children under 2 years old do not have the mental ability to understand the content and context within TV shows, even those that claim to have educational benefits.

“It’s entertaining,” Brown said. “People of all ages are drawn to screens. But it’s not educational for kids that age.”

The AAP guidelines are no different from recommendations from 1999, which also discouraged TV viewing in kids under 2. But this year, the association also made recommendations in regards to parents’ viewing habits.

“We addressed what we call second-hand TV,” Brown said. “This is when a child is playing in a room with the TV on. It’s distracting for the child and the parent, so we recommend that if you want to watch your shows, try to watch them later when children are asleep.”