Watching television dulls babies’ brains.
In 2009, France’s broadcasting authority banned the airing of all television, including advertising, aimed at babies and toddlers. They warned: “Television viewing hurts the development of children under 3 years old and poses a certain number of risks, encouraging passivity, slow language acquisition, over-excitedness, troubles with sleep and concentration, as well as dependence on screens.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics has also been advising against allowing babies and toddlers to watch television, and they’re asking parents to limit overall screen time for older children to 1 to 2 hours a day. But since their advice isn’t formally enforced, the majority of parents living in the USA continue to use their television set as a babysitter.
Today, roughly 4% of children in France are diagnosed with ADHD, compared to 12% in the USA. And the number continues to rise in the US after having jumped by 43% since 2003, which is roughly the time when tablets were introduced to the market.
If you’ve missed our post about why television mesmerizes and over-stimulates brains that are in the beginning stages of being wired for learning, you can read it here.
To read more about the prevalence of ADHD in the US go here:
Spending time with illustrated storybooks activates the brain.
Using Positron Imaging Technology scans, researchers have found that a young child’s brain lights up like a Christmas tree when a loving adult reads to them while pointing to pictures and interacting with the child.
When you show your toddler a picture and describe what the character is doing, his brain naturally responds by trying to form a mental picture of what you are saying in his mind’s eye. He is learning to imagine the character as being alive, moving and acting.
As parents, we add emotion when we read to our little ones. We are attuned to their responses and we adapt accordingly. That’s why we instinctively spend a little less time on a page and change our presentation when we sense that we are losing our audience. We know that little minds need help when it comes to paying attention and regulating emotions.
Most of the brain regions that are activated when we read to our children remain dormant when they watch television, so by sharing a book with your child you are giving him or her a unique opportunity to practise certain skills that would otherwise be neglected. They learn to listen with understanding and practise tapping into their imagination. Slowly but surely, reasoning and planning regions in their brains are activated. They begin to recognize and predict a storyline and even put themselves in the characters’ shoes. Magic is in the making.
Let’s not forget that a child’s brain is being wired at an astounding rate during the first years. Experiences shape the brain and the more often a child uses certain pathways, the more hardwired those neural pathways will become. So, instead of introducing our beloved Disney characters to our babies and toddlers via screens, we here at Practica believe it makes perfect sense to exclusively use Disney Books, at least for the time being, until our children are developmentally ready to enjoy the world of screens with real understanding and insight. But even then; let’s continue reading to them, because there is no better place than on a parent’s lap for a child to become a true citizen of Wonderland.
Visit www.disneybooks.co.za for more information.
*Disney Boeke is ook in Afrikaans beskikbaar.
Written by Lizette van Huyssteen