Q. My 12-month-old already loves TV and throws a fit when I turn it off. I hear so many different opinions about whether television is good or bad for kids. What's the truth, and how much should I let him watch?
A. I recently talked to parents of a 1-year-old who went on a hunger strike one day when they turned off her favorite video! So you're not alone -- it's not surprising that even very young children are fascinated with the colorful, moving images they see on television.
And while babies may learn some concepts, like numbers and letters, from educational programs and enjoy watching these shows, research tells us that children learn best from interactive, hands-on activities with the people they care about. These include looking at and manipulating toys and objects, and problem-solving tasks, such as working on opening and closing a plastic lid.
As far as guidelines go, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children younger than 2. But if you decide that a limited amount of TV time works for your family, keep these recommendations in mind.
Claire Lerner, LCSW, is a child development specialist at Zero to Three, a national nonprofit promoting the healthy development of babies and toddlers (zerotothree.org).
Originally published in American Baby magazine, January 2005.