Sesame Street and other pre-school programs may be educational, but new research warns those kids may suffer later after too much time with the tube. Scientists say the brain is still developing in those early years, and now, a study of infants and toddlers in this month's issue of Pediatrics suggests a link between tube time and the risk of attention problems like ADHD.
"What we found was each additional hour a day that children watched was associated with a 10% percent increase of having attentional problems at age seven. The interesting thing about this study, if it's really borne out is that it hopefully points to prevention of ADHD, something parents can actually do to increase their child's attention span," says Dr. Dimitri Christakis.
The study did not focus on program content, so it has nothing to do with what kids are watching, just how much they're watching. Dr. Christakis says it's the fast paced images on the TV screen that may act as sort of a stimulant overload to young children.
So, since the pre-school shows are designed to keep kids' attention, the concern is that may end up shortening their attention span as they get older and real life learning slows down. By the way, this study supports the American Academy of Pediatarics recommendation that kids should not watch any TV until after age 2.
The study, appearing in the April issue of Pediatrics, was conducted by the Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle and involved 1,345 children who participated in government sponsored national health surveys.
It's estimated that up to 30% of American households today have the television on all the time and children watch an average of at least two hours of television a day.