A study in the latest issue of Child Development makes a case against the widespread practice of leaving the television on while young children play.
Researchers from the University of Massachusetts studied 50 children ages 1 to 3 as they played with toys for an hour under two conditions: with a television in the background playing episodes from the adult game show “Jeopardy!” or with the TV turned off. They found that background television had a disruptive effect on the toddlers’ play—even when the children didn’t seem to be paying attention to it.
Marie Evans Schmidt, the lead author and now a research associate at the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital in Boston, cautioned parents against leaving on the TV as children play, which researchers estimate takes place in three-quarters of U.S. homes.
A version of this article appeared in the July 16, 2008 edition of Education Week