Children’s TV may seem like a great way to get kids a head start on learning. Also, many parents use children’s TV to keep the kids occupied so mom or dad can get things done around the house. Yet, kindergarten children who watched less TV at age 29 months do better in kindergarten than their peers who watched more TV. A recent study from Quebec, Canada, showed the children who watched less TV demonstrate better vocabulary and math skills, classroom engagement (which is largely determined by attention skills), less bullying by classmates, and better physical coordination, when compared to their peers who watched more TV.

This study of children’s TV and its impact on their development gathered data from 991 girls and 1,006 boys participating in the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development. Researchers gathered data for this study from the children’s parents and kindergarten teachers.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents avoid putting children in front of a TV until they are 2 years old. This study showed that even one hour a day of TV sitting in front of the screen can hinder a child’s developmental progress. This gives further proof that young children develop their social and motor skills best when their parents give them opportunities for play and social interaction.

How many parents may be thinking that they are giving their children a head start with a few hours of educational children’s TV a day? Without knowing it, many parents put their children at a disadvantage by putting them in front of the TV at a young age. This study suggests that parent-child play, simple hands-on toys, and supervised play with other children may be among the best ways to prepare a child for success in kindergarten, and perhaps success in life.

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