Stop the presses! Or the electrons, or whatever. Researchers have discovered that watching a lot of TV as a toddler shortens the attention span of children.
The more television infants and toddlers watch, the more likely they are to have trouble paying attention and concentrating during their early school years, a study reports Monday.
. . . The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV for children younger than 2 and no more than two hours of high-quality programming for older kids. Many children watch much more TV.
Young TV addicts may not have Attention Deficit Disorder, but they’re more likely to have problems with concentration, impulsiveness and restlessness. The more they watched, the more problems their mothers reported. When researchers accounted for other factors, “the TV-attention link remained.”
It’s harder to teach TV addicts.
Meanwhile, even veteran teachers with superb child-managing skills are reporting “more kids that are off-the-wall. … It started about 10 years ago,” says Susan Ratterree, a 25-year school psychologist supervisor in suburban New Orleans. Awareness of ADHD is increasing teacher reports of attention problems, “but the kids are changing, too,” she says.
Educators may need to change their methods to keep the attention of stimulation-saturated children, says Los Angeles media psychologist Stuart Fischoff. “Rather than seeing these kids as pathological, maybe we should see them as adaptive, pointing the way to how our society is evolving. Brains may be changing, and we don’t know if it’s going to be bad or not.”
We don’t? I think we do.
I was three or four when my parents got our first TV. (This was in the ’50s.) My sister and I watched The Mickey Mouse Club as our only show. No Howdy Doody. No Captain Kangaroo. My daughter started watching TV when she was three, I think. It was Sesame Street only, and then Mister Rogers. But not every day. She had to ask permission to watch anything. By the time, she was too old for Mister Rogers, she could read. I didn’t watch TV while she was awake either, except for the news. For years, she thought all adult programs were “the news.” Of course, she’s now addicted to The O.C. and Friends.