Study Looks at Boob Tube Babies

Babies are watching too much TV, according to a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The report, "Digital Childhood: Electronic Media and Technology Use Among Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers," focused on media use by children ages zero to six. The AAP recommends that children two and younger not be exposed to TV, but more than half in the survey knew how to power up the set by themselves. One-fifth of those two and younger had TV sets in their bedrooms. Of all the children in the survey who had TVs in their bedrooms, 51 percent had cable or satellite service.

The precise impact of the boob tube on brain development is not known. However, AAP says, there is evidence of a correlation between TV viewing and "attentional problems," and "increasing evidence that bedroom television in particular is linked to a number of poor outcomes, including academic, social, and physical activity."

The AAP recommends "talking, playing, singing and reading" for proper brain development, but 85 percent of the parents in the survey didn't talk to a pediatrician about putting a TV at the foot of the crib. The most common reason given for doing so was "that it frees up other televisions in the house so that other family members can watch their own shows."

The survey polled the parents of 1,045 children; the Kaiser Family Foundation collected the data in 2005. Of the 412 children two or younger represented, 68 percent watched some TV. The average TV viewing time for the entire sample was one hour and 20 minutes a day.

The sample demographics reflected the overall U.S. population based on Census information. Ethnicity, income, and parental education had no bearing on how much TV kids watched, but older children (five and six) in single-parent households tended to watch more TV.