Want kids who are smarter and physically active? Keep them away from the idiot box as toddlers!

Television exposure before age two can have negative consequences for kids ranging from poor math and vocabulary skills to increased victimization by classmates and poorer physical proficiency at kindergarten a new study suggests.

Lead author of the study, Professor Linda Pagani of the University of Montreal and the CHU Sainte-Justine children’s hospital stated, “This is the first time ever that a stringently controlled associational birth cohort study has looked at and found a relationship between too much toddler screen time and kindergarten risks for poor motor skills and psychosocial difficulties, like victimization by classmates.

“These findings suggest the need for better parental awareness and compliance with existing viewing recommendations put forth by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP discourages watching television during infancy and recommends not more than two hours per day beyond age 2. It seems that every extra hour beyond that has a remarkably negative influence.”

Study of 2000 kids
The study was designed to determine whether too much toddler screen time diminishes toddlers’ kindergarten chances. The investigation, part of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development involved almost 2,000 kids from toddlerhood to kindergarten.

Parents were asked to report how much TV their kids watched at 29 months in age. Teachers were asked to evaluate academic, psychosocial and health habits.

The study found that every extra hour of TV a child watched at 29 months had negative outcomes. Kids who were exposed to three hours of screen time exhibited a decrease in classroom engagement, math achievement and vocabulary skills. They were also bullied by classmates had lower physical prowess.

Professor Pagani explained, “Because of kindergarten’s power to predict future productivity, the identification of modifiable factors that foretell not being ready for the transition to formal schooling represents an important goal for a productive society.

“By statistical standards, the results show highly controlled modest associations, yet these are net effects which suggest a developmental course which could ultimately compromise achievement, social relations, physical prowess, and preferences and habits toward a healthy lifestyle.”

Study details are published in the journal, Pediatric Research.

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