Professor lectures on TV viewing
Posted May 16, 2008

Dr. Dimitri Christakis, professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, spoke on the effects of excessive TV viewing on children’s brain development Friday in La Fetra Hall.

The evolving American youth has grown accustomed to television viewing as a norm in society.

Many Americans allow their children to watch television, not only as a form of entertainment but also as an alternative babysitter.

From 1949 to 1955, watching television was a type of bonding experience among many families.

In recent times, families are separated by multiple televisions around households and have become the key source of distraction for many children.

“Early experiences to television critically affect a child’s development,” Christakis said.

Christakis explained that today there is 24/7 television programming for children.

Children are no longer being active and collaborating with other children, but are more focused on a television screen.

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages television viewing from infants to the age of 2.

Television programs lure in children by having stimulating effects like flashing colors, moving objects and many different sounds.

“Parents have the misconception that video games and television programs are teaching and educating their children,” Christakis said.

For example, “Baby Einstein,” an infant television program, has grown in popularity since many parents believe that their children are truly benefiting from its content.

Christakis said that babies cannot take their eyes off of it because it is very mind stimulating with lots of different images and video.

“There is no coherent narrative,” Christakis said.

“It’s surprising to see that shows like “Baby Einstein,” really don’t work,”

Christine Avila, a sophomore child development major, said.
Programs like “Baby Einstein,” may result in the rise of Attention Deficit/Hyper­activity Disorder.

Prolonged exposure to rapid image change during critical period of brain development causes a child to have less of an attention span.

When viewing these types of programs, it preconditions a child to expect all shows and actions towards them to have that rapid motion.

This results in children not being able to concentrate in classrooms and teachers having to change their teaching habits according to the attention span of a child.

Television viewing before age 3 is more likely to have attention problems at age 7.

Baldwin Lopez, an Azusa resident, said that he really thinks about the future of his grandchildren with this television frenzy. Lopez said that he has a better understanding on what a detriment the exposure to television can be.

Reading daily to a child will increase their language ability and will have less complications communicating.

“There is no substitution for human activity,” Christakis said.

There is no actual evidence that infants benefit from television viewing.

Children should be able to play simulation games that will increase their critical thinking capability. Parents should take a strong role in interacting with their children in order to decrease the risk of ADHD and delayed language ability.

Maxtla Benavides can be reached at mbenavides@ulv.edu.

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