TV for Babies: Does It Help or Hurt? Early parenting choices are never clear-cut, and deciding whether to allow your infant to watch television or DVDs ranks as one of the more perplexing. Thanks to marketing claims for TV shows and DVDs created for babies, many parents believe that watching educational programming will stimulate infants’ brains and actually promote parenting early years magazine review. It’s a seductive line of reasoning.
Certainly, exposing a baby to brain-engaging DVDs will put him on an early path to becoming, well, a baby Einstein, right? Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston, studied more than 800 youngsters from birth to 3 years, recording the time they spent watching television or DVDs as reported by their mothers, as well as their performance on language and motor-skill tests. On average, the babies spent 1. TV during their first two years of life, slightly less than the average viewing time reported in previous studies. In her initial analysis, Schmidt found that babies who spent more time in front of the TV performed worse on language and motor-skill tests at age 3 than those who watched less.
The current study did not investigate these home factors, but other research has suggested that mothers with lower education and income tend not to read to their babies as much as better-educated moms and that their vocabulary and grammar skills may be more limited, leading to insufficient verbal interaction with their children. This study is only the second to track TV-viewing and cognitive development in infants over time. Its results diverge from those of the other longitudinal study, conducted by Dr. Dimitri Christakis at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, which found that DVD-viewing hindered toddlers’ ability to learn vocabulary.