One-year-old Luke, big sister Sierra, and their 19-month-old friend Callie love to play! And like most kids, the television sometimes keeps them company.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has something to say about that. Dr. Heather Rainwater of PediatricCare says the AAP recommends children over the age of two watch no more than two hours of television a day. They also recommend no TV or videos for children under the age of two. That's right, none.
Dr. Rainwater says the first two years of life is time for very intense brain development and even the educational programming that isn't necessarily harmful to children still isn't the best for enhancing brain development.
Dr. Rainwater says, realistically, kids are going to be exposed to television. She says the idea behind the recommendations is to get parents thinking and interacting with their kids.
"It's just important that parents are paying attention to what it is their children are watching," Dr. Rainwater said. "If you've got an 18-month-old who really enjoys watching "The Wiggles" and you're watching with them, and you guys are dancing, and you're singing, and you're pointing out colors, and you're talking about what you see on the screen, that can be a very enriching educational experience."
Paying attention to what kids are watching extends to commercials, too. Dr. Rainwater says they can unwittingly expose kids to violence or other material you may not want them to see.
If your child under two has been watching TV, don't panic!
"It's not the end of the world!" Dr. Rainwater said. "It's always a good idea to step back and think about what you're doing to encourage your child's development."
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more information about children and television on its Web site, www.aap.org. Click "Children's Health Topics," and find "Television."