America’s youngest children are immersed in TV and other forms of electronic media and too little is known about the impact of so much "screen time" on their cognitive and physical development, researchers said Tuesday as they unveiled a Kaiser Family Foundation report.
According to a survey of parents, 43% of children under two watch TV every day and 25% have a set in their bedroom.
The presence of a set in so many toddlers’ bedrooms is "astounding," said Ellen Wartella, one of the study’s authors and dean of the University of Texas College of Communication.
In homes with "heavy" TV exposure where the a set is likely to be left on even when no one is watching, children between two and six are less likely to know how to read or be daily readers, their study found.
"These numbers raise some real alarms about whether leaving the TV on has an impact on children’s reading," added Victoria Rideout, Kaiser vice president and another report co-author.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two not watch television, a guideline the report’s authors found unrealistic and potentially too strict.