New AAP Survey Shows Toddlers Watch Too Much Television

AMES, Iowa – Parents, according to a new survey from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), your toddler could be watching too much television. A new policy report from the AAP says there are better ways to help children learn at this young age.

“Parents need to be aware of what the research is saying and what pediatricians are supporting,” agrees Kimberly Greder, human development and family studies associate professor and extension specialist with Iowa State University and Outreach. “Parents need to spend time with their infants and toddlers playing and interacting, not putting them in front of a TV.”

In the survey conducted by AAP, 90 percent of parents said their children under age 2 watch some form of electronic media. Children this age watch televised programs one to two hours per day on average. New data from the survey show there are more negative effects than positive in letting children under age 2 watch television.

Some key findings include

  • Many video programs for infants and toddlers are marketed as educational, yet there is no evidence to support this claim.
  • Unstructured playtime is more valuable for the developing brain than electronic media.
  • Children learn to think creatively, problem solve and develop reasoning during unstructured play.
  • Young children learn best from and need interaction with humans, not screens.

“Instead of sitting their child down in front of a TV, parents should play with their toddlers and read to them,” Greder said. “Toddlers learn through play and from hearing their parent’s voice and looking at pictures.”

According to Greder, ISU Extension and Outreach provides many resources for families with toddlers: Just in Time Parenting is a free e-newsletter delivered once a month; many publications for families are available for free download in the ISU Extension online store.