Babies becoming Einstein? Infants who watched “a popular infant DVD designed to teach vocabulary” 5 times a week for a month (with or without their parents) learned no more words than children who were not exposed to the video at all. We gave parents of other infants a list of the vocabulary words from the DVD and asked them to teach their babies the words in any way that was natural to them. These infants learned more words than the other groups. DeLoache, J.S., Chiong, C., Vanderborght, M., Sherman, K., Islam, N., Troseth, G.L., Strouse, G.A., & O’Doherty, K. (2010). Do babies learn from baby media? Psychological Science. 21. 1570-1574. DOI: 10.1177/0956797610384145
Other video research with infants: Infants who watched more baby videos tended to have less advanced language development Infants who saw a Mandarin speaker talk about toys face-to-face learned the sounds of Mandarin, but infants who watched the speaker on video did not
Toddlers and TV 2-year-olds learned much less from watching an event on video than they did from watching the same event directly through a window – finding hidden objects – learning words – imitating a new skill Troseth, G. L., & DeLoache, J. S. (1998). The medium can obscure the message: Young children's understanding of video. Child Development, 69, 950-965.
Toddlers are smart: They’ve figured out TV is different from reality Giving them experience with “live” video (current reality) improved learning – Study 1: Watched themselves on live video – Study 2: Toddlers and parents interacted with the experimenter via closed-circuit video Troseth, G. L., O’Doherty, K., & Strouse, G. A. (2013). Trusting the tube: New information about an established technology. Zero to Three, 33, 25-30. Researchers now are looking at what young children learn from Skype/FaceTime
Does it matter if parents co-view with children? Parents tend to pause and ask their children questions while reading books, but not while watching videos 3.5-year olds watched Scholastic video storybooks for 2 weeks: – by themselves – with parents who paused the videos and asked questions (“Dialogic questioning”) – with parents who paused the videos and pointed out information Children who watched along with parent questioning learned much more vocabulary and story content Strouse, G.A., O’Doherty, K.D., & Troseth, G.L. (2013). Effective Co-viewing: Preschoolers’ Learning from Video After a Dialogic Questioning Intervention. Developmental Psychology. doi: 10.1037/a0032463 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6ZJRFwdF3c
What about watching TV? LOTS of evidence that watching educational programs such as Sesame Street are beneficial for older preschoolers’ learning (2.5-5 years): Anderson, D.R., Huston, A.C., Schmitt, K.L., Linebarger, D.L. & Wright, J.C. (2001). Early childhood television viewing and adolescent behavior: The Recontact Study. Monographs of the Society for Research in Child Development. 68(1), Serial No. 264, 1-143. On the other hand, evidence that “background TV” (having the TV always on in the background) is not good for children’s development: Schmidt, M.E., Pempek, T.A., Kirkorian, H.L., Lund, A.F. & Anderson, D.R. (2008). The effects of background television on the toy play behavior of very young children. Child Development, 79, 1137-1151.
Does TV affect children’s self-control and focus (“Executive function”)? Immediate effect of watching different kinds of TV programs: “The goal of this research was to study whether a fast-paced television show immediately influences preschool-aged children's executive function (eg, self-regulation, working memory). Results: Children who watched the fast-paced television cartoon performed significantly worse on the executive function tasks than children in the other 2 groups when controlling for child attention, age, and television exposure. Conclusions: Just 9 minutes of viewing a fast- paced television cartoon had immediate negative effects on 4-year- olds' executive function. Parents should be aware that fast-paced television shows could at least temporarily impair young children's executive function.” http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/09/08/peds.2010- 1919.abstract
Does watching TV cause ADHD? Barkley, R.A. (2004). ADHD and television exposure: Correlation as cause. The ADHD Report: Vol. 12, No. 4, pp. 1-4. http://search.proquest.com.proxy.library.vanderbilt.edu/docview/210870958 ?accountid=14816 “As the authors rightly noted, this study can say absolutely nothing about early TV exposure causing attention problems in children. And it surely cannot speak to whether early television viewing affects synaptic connections in the brain in the manner they hypothesize, given that no such neuronal connections were studied. All it has demonstrated is an association, and a weak one at that. A correlation, no matter how strong, cannot prove a causal connection between the related variables. The causal arrow in this case could just as easily go the other way--attention problems cause children to watch more television, as opposed to doing other things that require sustained attention. This makes just as much sense as the causal direction the authors wish to imply--that television exposure causes attention problems.”
What about touch-screen devices? AAP media recommendations: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/10/12/peds. 2011-1753.full.pdf+html Christakis, D.A. (2014). Interactive Media Use at Younger Than the Age of 2 Years: Time to Rethink the American Academy of Pediatrics Guideline? JAMA Pediatrics. http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1840251 Linn, S. (March 19, 2014). Still no evidence that touch screens are good for babies. HuffPost Science: (Director, Campaign for a Commercial- Free Childhood) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-linn/a-hunch-isnt-science- stil_b_4979024.html
A balanced viewpoint, by a science writer and mom Guernsey, L. (2012, 2007). Screen Time: How Electronic Media—From Baby Videos to Educational Software— Affects Your Young Child. http://www.lisaguernsey.com/Screen-Time.htm