I'm so pleased that someone (Dennis) wrote a comment questioning my stance on television/DVD programing directed at babies and toddlers. This is an issue I am passionate about so I welcome debate. Dennis claims that the American Academy of Pediatrics is reconsidering their recommendation that children under two have no screen time whatsoever. If this is true, it would be an interesting change of direction. I'd like to see a link to this study--I couldn't find anything. However, if they do begin to suggest screen time for babies and toddlers, it wouldn't change my view that these products are a waste of time for this age group.
My view is based on parental observation. When my son watched these programs on two occassions, he was not responsive or interested in his surroundings. I could not engage him as he was transfixed on the screen (then again, maybe I'm just dull ;-). I find it impossible to believe that this flatened state is beneficial in any way.
Children under two (and older as well) must engage in learning that is tactile, kinetic, and emotional. A television or computer screen can provide none of these things. The only time it's suitable is when a stressed-out parent needs a break. DVDs are great when a tired parents needs a shower but play is far better for a developing mind and body. Let's call the television what it is: a babysitter. I use it in that way when I need to make dinner or an important phone call but I'm under no illusions that it will make my son smarter.
I think as children grow older, limited screen time is less harmful. As children begin to enjoy stories, programs with a plot engage them more. Videos can also provide down-time after a busy day. Again, I try to limit my son's screen time to under one hour per day. I even struggle with that sometimes.