Here’s a topic I just posted on the BrillKids Forum:
Many of you probably have read about the recent controversy stirred up by the Today Show over YBCR and teaching babies to read in October last year, and again recently when the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) joined in the attack.
If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend reading Dr. Richard Gentry’s blog post on this: “Is There a “Baby Can Read” Witch Hunt?”. Particularly fascinating were the comments the blog attracted, including a post by CCFC who were obviously not very pleased with what Dr. Gentry wrote.
One of the later comments then brought up a point about how CCFC twisted the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)’s recommendations regarding babies and screen time as supposed ‘evidence’ against YBCR.
Sadly, I don’t think CCFC are the first or only ones to represent/misrepresent the AAP’s recommendation to be something that’s absolute (ie., NO screen time for children under two, PERIOD).
So what did the AAP actually say? Here’s the recommendation regarding babies and TV:
- Discourage television viewing for children younger than 2 years, and encourage more interactive activities that will promote proper brain development, such as talking, playing, singing, and reading together.
Firstly, notice that they say “discourage”, not something as absolute as “no screen time” which we hear so often.
Secondly, notice that it follows on to say that they encourage “interactive activities… such as… reading together”.
The whole point about this policy is that we should not simply be putting our young children in front of TVs unsupervised and without any interaction, which is what many parents often and easily do when it comes to letting children watch TV.
I’ll be the first to raise my hand as someone who has been guilty of doing that. Sometimes, that’s the easiest way to occupy our children when we need to take time off to tend to something else or to just take a break!
So the point of this is that we should try our best not to, because:
1. Children need INTERACTION
(This has also been borne out by a recent study. See here.)
2. Some CONTENT can be unsuitable and unhealthy.
In addition, the AAP also has these recommendations:
- Monitor the shows children and adolescents are viewing. Most programs should be informational, educational, and nonviolent.
- View television programs along with children, and discuss the content. Two recent surveys involving a total of nearly 1500 parents found that less than half of parents reported always watching television with their children.
Notice the pattern?
So, if we are sitting with our children, interacting with them, and even reading to/with them, while watching content that is educational, and all the while doing so in a fun and loving way, do you really think the AAP would wag their finger and say, “Uh uh… Not recommended! No TV under age of 2!”
What do you think?
See: The AAP’s full policy statement.
Please tell us what you think by either leaving a comment here or joining the Forum discussion here:
KL Wong is the Founder and CEO of BrillKids, and also father of Felicity, aged 5. He can be contacted at KL(at)brillkids(dot)com.