US Pharm. 2007;32(10):93-94.

The notion of sitting a child who is 8 to 16 months old in front of a television to watch DVDs and videos to help develop language skills may be an urban myth according to researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle. According to the investigators, a child's language development in this age group may actually suffer from such exposure. Results of the study were published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

According to researcher Frederick J. Zimmerman, PhD, and colleagues, every hour of daily DVD/video viewing by babies was associated with a nearly 17-point decrease in scores on an assessment of communication skills. No adverse effect was seen in children ages 17 to 24 months. According to the authors, the 17-point figure "corresponds to a difference of about six to eight words for a typical child" in the 90 children tested.

The researchers concluded that while several educational programs exhibit in children value between the ages of 2 and 5, there was no demonstrated benefit in children younger than 2. And they said that heavy viewing between infancy and 3 years has been associated with various developmental problems. They add that the reasons for the adverse effect between video viewing and the development of language skills are unclear and that further testing is needed.

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