January 9, 2013: Excessive television watching used to just be an issue for children toddlers age and up. However, a new study, Maternal Characteristics and Perception of Temperament Associated With Infant TV Exposure, authored by Amanda Thompson, PhD, MPH,(left) assistant professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina, and published on-line in the journal Pediatrics finds that the dependency on television to soothe a child can start in infancy.
According to Steven Reinberg for HealthDay,"This is further evidence that certain ...environments early on... are not conducive to optimizing [a child's] mental health," said Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at the Seattle Children's Research Institute and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He added, "Early television viewing is associated with attention problems and with cognitive delays, and it's harmful to babies' brain development."
The study found that infants as young as three months old were exposed to an average of 2.6 hours of TV and/or videos daily. Nearly 40% of infants (age 12 months) were exposed to three hours of TV daily. Infants perceived as being more active or fussier had higher TV exposure, particularly if their mothers also had risk factors for higher TV exposure.
HealthDay reported,TV viewing continued through mealtime for many infants, the researchers found. Mothers with more education were less likely to keep the TV on during meals.
The study, funded by the National Institute of Health, and also authored by Linda S. Adair, PhD, and Margaret E. Bentley, Phd, both professors of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, looked at the development of TV behaviors across a child's first 18 months of life. It also identified maternal and infant predictors of infant TV exposure. The study's population was 217 North Carolina, mother-infant pairs that had participated in the Infant Care and Risk of Obesity Study. The study used their TV exposure, maternal sociodemographic, and infant temperament data.
Researchers completed at home visits to complete the study. Thompson told California's Children the visits were done "at three, six, nine, twelve and eighteen months of age." Thompson added that "about 40% of the mothers were living in three generation households, meaning that the grandmother was living with them."Many professionals in the field, including the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourage TV watching before the age of two.
Written by: Taylor McCullcoh