Tuesday, May 4, 2010

In for trouble at age ten? I'm not so sure.

Yahoo.com flashed an article in front of my eyes today on their homepage. One I could not help but reading right away:

More TV For Toddlers Equals School Trouble Later

The article discusses a recent study that looked at TV viewership among 2-1/2 and 4-1/2-year-old children, then checked in with their teachers and doctors once they turned 10 years old.

"Every additional weekly hour of television at 29 months corresponded to a 7 percent drop in classroom attention and a 6 percent drop in math skills, researchers found."

I have no doubt that the research was conduced with a solid methodology by very smart people. I'm sure the results came out as reported. But I have a strong suspicion that there could be much, much more to the story.

These articles are always written with a tone of finality that gets on my nerves. A tone of black & white, right & wrong, case closed. Life just isn't like that. And neither is research, when it's conducted on human beings. There are so many factors involved. Correlation does not always equal causation... right? I know someone taught me that in high school.

I would love to see stats on some of these other factors. Did the high-TV viewership kids have more propensity to watch programming that wasn't appropriate or non-educational? Did they sit still eating chips while watching their shows?

I wonder if there is another, more influential, correlation. What is the parenting like in the high-TV households? Did the children watch more TV in lieu of adult interaction? Did the parents choose to push their children towards television instead of getting on the floor and playing a game? Or reading books?

Amelia watches television. A lot, according to most experts. The Disney Channel is on in the morning during breakfast and while I pack her lunch for school (if it's a school day). She may watch a 30-minute show before naptime - usually Super WHY from PBS or a Disney Channel show we've saved on our DVR. And when it's time for me to cook dinner, she watches something age-appropriate and non-violent for up to an hour. Does that add up to 2 hours a day? Yep. Maybe even 2-1/2. But Amelia is up on her feet, often jumping along with the character on TV. She doesn't sit still and snack while watching. She loves her books, and spends just as much time reading books as she does watching our magical 50-inch cartoon box. Often, she grabs a book while the show is on, deciding to tell me about the animals or colors on the pages instead. She is advanced for her age, already counting to twelve, singing her entire ABCs, and speaking in sentences often up to 7 words in length.

Most importantly, Amelia gets a ton of one-on-one time with me and Daddy. She knows she is well-loved and safe. She knows that we want her to learn and will always take pride in her abilities and new-found efforts.

Maybe I'll eat my words in 8 more years. I certainly hope not...

I'm not going to lose sleep over it. I think she'll turn out just fine.
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