Background TV may harm child development

July 16, 2008

Background television may have a disruptive influence on the behavior of children ages 12 to 36 months, as reported in the July/August Child Development.

Background television may have a disruptive influence on the behavior of children ages 12 to 36 months, as reported in the July/August Child Development.

Investigators observed 50 children who were 12, 24, and 36 months old as they played with various toys for one hour. For half of the hour, the game show Jeopardy! was on a television set in the room; the TV was turned off for the other half hour.

Compared to when the TV was off, toy play episode length and focused attention during toy play was significantly reduced in each child age group while the TV was on, even though children only glanced at the program for a few seconds and less than once per minute.

The researchers concluded that their findings have implications for subsequent child cognitive development, which may include poorer language development and attention deficit symptoms.