Vange Alianan-Bautista, a psychologist at PsychConsult, Inc. in Quezon City, says, “It’s not advisable to let babies 0 to 18 months old watch television. The stimulation is only visual,” she says, citing that babies need other types of stimuli to develop skills.
Maggie Rose Almoro, an early childhood educator and directress of Children’s Formative Learning School in San Pedro, Laguna, says, “Children under the age of 3 years should not be allowed to watch TV at all. But if that’s not feasible, TV watching should be strictly regulated and extremely limited.”
Almoro adds that the fast-paced delivery of information is not suitable to an infant or toddler whose brain, “at this crucial point in their lives, is just getting ‘wired’. Many child experts concur that overstimulation of the brain at this age leads to many cognitive, emotional, and social development problems later on.”
What parents should do
Play. Almoro strongly advocates engaging infants and toddlers at play. “It’s the primary way by which children should learn to make sense of the world they are in,” she explains. So sing him songs, hug him, tickle him—play with him.
Interact. Alianan-Bautista says that more than visual stimulation, babies should be presented with activities requiring movement and interaction. “Children should get real-time reactions from people and things which TV cannot provide because it’s a one-way medium,” she says.
Read your baby storybooks. Remember to also let him quietly play by himself by giving him a board book or soft blocks.
Hold off TV viewing for as long as possible, until the child turns 3 years, Almoro advises. “Personally, I don’t think a child raised TV-free will be missing anything as opposed to a child who is denied of play experiences and real-life interaction,” she opines.
Not to worry But if your child has been TV surfing before he turned 3 years, Almoro recommends limiting the activity to no more than 10 minutes a day, and only with educational programs that are easy to digest by very young minds.
SOURCES l Vange Alianan-Bautista, psychologist, PsychConsult, Inc., Quezon City l Maggie Rose Almoro, directress and head teacher, Rosewood Children’s Formative Learning School, San Pedro, Laguna