Being kept at home throughout the day mattered, too. Almost 23 percent of the children who went on fewer than four outings a week watched at least two hours of TV a day, compared with 14.5 percent of the children who went on frequent outings. Moreover, children who spent time in a child care center were less likely to watch a lot of TV (7.8 percent) than children who didn't (about 23 percent) or children who had other types of child care (18.6 percent), the researchers found.
Limiting the amount of TV children watch when very young may help reduce the amount of time they spend on media as they get older, the researchers said. Right now, the average school-age child spends 4.5 hours watching television each day and 7.5 hours using media overall, a recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found.
"Most parents, probably don't recognize that watching television in this age group has potential harms," Oh said. "There is no scientific evidence that shows that television and video viewing in children of this age has any educational benefit. Instead, there have been several studies that have shown that TV viewing at 2 years of age and younger can have negative impacts on learning, language and attention and it's also linked to childhood obesity."
Too much screen time can take a toll on a child's development, Wurm agreed.
"The more kids are spoken to, the better their language development," she said. "When children are engaged in the television, they are not being spoken to by adults. We know that cognitive development is linked to speech development, so children who don't learn to speak well, those are the kids who will not reach their cognitive potential."
The problem, Wurm said, is that TV can beco
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