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As a Trainer for the last 12 years my knee-jerk reaction to almost every problem is that exercise can cure it!  I found a very important study, that every parent MUST read, that sadly puts me in my place.  The study is on the effect of electronic media such as TV, DVDs and Computers on a child's development and emotional well being.

Contrary to what Baby Einstein may tell you research now tells us that kid time in front of electronic media is counter productive!  Here are some amazing facts that you need to understand to be the best parent possible:

Here is an extended quote from the scientist, Aric Sigman, about the impact of TV on the developing mind of children.

"… [T]he scientists found that for every hour per day spent watching specially developed baby DVDs and videos such as Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby, children under 16 months understood an average of six to eight fewer words than children who did not watch them.

One of the authors stated," The evidence is mounting that they are of no value and may in fact be harmful.

Given what we now know, I believe the onus is on the manufacturers to prove their claims that watching these programs can positively impact children's cognitive development. The bottom line is the more a child watches baby DVDs and videos the bigger the effect. The amount of viewing does matter."

Finally, it is important to note, and this is the part that really caught my attention, that adding extra exercise or physical activity will not counteract the negative effects of the electronic media time!  Nothing but shortening the amount of time in front of the the TV will help solve this issue.

As a long time trainer and parent of 3 I would love to say that my kids never watch TV and I have them doing push-ups and crunches when they get bored, but that just isn't the case.  Sometimes parents need a break where they just lower their engagement with the kiddies, and believe me when I tell you that I get that!  Here is what we have done to try and tune out the TV as much as possible and you should try them too.

  • Cancel the cable.  I know that this sounds extreme for those addicted to Sports Center but not having something easily available makes it soooooo much harder to use.  My wife and I have had nothing but rabbit ears for TV for about 8 years now, and I do not regret it one bit.
  • Time the TV time.  You now know that the amount of TV a kid watches has a direct relation on their health, so take control of that time.  Use that old school egg timer or even the oven timer and let them watch TV in 20 minute intervals only.
  • Make them earn it.  If your kids really need some TV time (and maybe you need them to be silent for a few minutes too...) then use 20 minutes of TV as a reward for cleaning the living room or taking out the trash, or playing outside.  TV does not have to be an automatic, people survived without it for thousands of years.
Every parent that I know wants to be the best parent possible, but TV is part of who we are now.  Make sure that that you are taking the steps, now that you know, to ensure your child the best possible opportunity!  Good luck!

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Here are the links to the articles where I got my info
Live Science
Pub Med

9/20/2012 05:27:28 pm

Just reading up on some of this lately, was interesting.


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