From January 2 through February 16, the Mediatrician will be discussing families' concerns about media and kids at Parents.com. Here's a recent question and answer:
Q: I have a 26 month old daughter, and up until she turned two I never really let her watch TV. I don't really mind as much now that she is getting older, but now she shows no interest in it what so ever. She does not have any patience or interest to sit and watch a TV show. I am fine with this, but friends of mine think that it is INSANE that she does not watch TV. Is this normal for kids who did not watch TV when they were younger or should I be worried that she has an attention problem or some sort? Is it ok that she is not watching TV? She is very smart and on track developmentally, I just don't get why everyone is getting on me because she does not watch TV! Thanks for any insight you might have!
– zenbaby at Parents.com
A: I must admit that hearing your concern is sort of like hearing the perfectly toned athlete complain that she can’t gain weight, not matter how hard she tries. Many parents would be delighted to have your “problem.” That said, the scientific research we have to date supports your decision not to put her in front of an electronic screen until she was two.
Although there are still only a limited number of good studies on the effects of screen media on children under 2, what there is indicates that: 1) children cannot consistently learn anything of value from a screen until about 30 months of age and 2) early screen use has been associated in with increased risk of overweight, behavioral and attention problems later in life. Parenting choices are invariably a risk-benefit analysis – is the potential risk outweighed by the benefit to be realized? Research done at CMCH has demonstrated that while early screen use may not be actively harmful, the fact that there is little demonstrable benefit to outweigh potential problems makes your decision the reasonable one. (See the Ask the Mediatrician discussion of this here.)
Your friends think your situation is insane because many parents use the TV as an electronic babysitter, educator, or soother for their children. Several have asked The Mediatrician how they can wean their child off the screen.Your daughter has already figured out how to play independently, to learn, and to self-soothe. Brava, zenbaby!
Enjoy your media and use them wisely,