Babies + Television = #ADHD

Watching TV programs and videos as an infant and a toddler may lead to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder later in life, a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows.

Watching TV “rewires” the brain of an infant, and the damage shows up at age seven, when it is first noticed thses children have difficulty paying attention in school, says Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis, director of the Child Health Institute at Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle.

“In contrast to the way real life unfolds and is experienced by young children, the pace of TV is greatly sped up. Quick scene shifts of video images become ‘normal’, to an infant or toddler, when in fact, it’s definitely not normal or natural.” Christakis says. By exposing a child’s developing brain to television and videos, permanent changes in developing neural pathways could result.

Dr. Christakis found in a study of more than 2,000 children, that for every hour of television watched at age one and age three, the children had nearly a 10% higher chance of developing attention problems that might be diagnosed as ADHD by age seven. That means a toddler who watches three hours of television a day had nearly a 30% higher risk of having attention problems in school.

Twenty-six percent of children in the United States younger than two have television in their bedroom, and often watch the “boob tube” from their crib. Thirty-six percent of families leave the television on almost all of the time, even if no one is watching, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study.

Does this mean that parents who use baby videos like Baby Einstein, Baby Mozart, So Smart, and Teletubbies are putting their children at risk for Special Ed classes, behavioral therapy and Ritalin? These videos are sold as educational, as a means of giving your child a headstart on their education, and as a means to increase learning ability and IQ. But the truth is, these videos are denying a child real life experience, and often, allows a parent to shirk the duty to teach, by simply popping in a DVD.

Infants and toddlers do not need television to distract them, the startling news is, that humans raised children for 50,000 years before television was invented, and you can do it too. Many complex neaural pathways are formed by performing simple tasks; allowing your child, even a very young child, to watch you cook, wash the dishes, help fold laundry, help water the plants, dust the furniture, as you explain and teach, will do far more for that child’s future than engaging them in watching television, even “educational” shows.

ADHD affects 12 percent of school children in the United States, it and has increased dramatically over the past 50 years; the same time period since television was introduced. Studies have shown that ADHD began to increase with children’s television in the 1950s and spiked even higher in the 1980s when VCRs became affordable and common in the home. Although ADHD is known to be linked to genetics, there are also environmental causes, and television is a significant cause. Back in 1998, the Academy of American Pediatrics advised no children under two years old should watch television at all.

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