Educational shows can be helpful for young children

  • By Emily Yahr The Washington Post
  • Friday, June 22, 2012 6:10pm
  • Life

Kids and TV: Talk about a lightning rod of a topic, especially in today’s era of countless channels and options.

For official guidelines, the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages children ages 2 and younger from watching television.

As for older kids, the AAP recommends no more than one to two hours of nonviolent educational programming per day, supervised by an adult.

We talked to Dimitri Christakis — a member of the executive committee of the AAP Council on Communications and Media and a director at Seattle Children’s Research Institute — about the best way for parents to utilize the small screen.

Q: Can TV actually be good for kids that young?

A: “I often say, ‘All television is educational,’” Christakis said. “The real question is: What is it teaching?”

For children in the 2-to-5 age range, certain shows can teach kindergarten readiness skills: patience, being kind to others, learning to share.

Kids love to imitate what they see, so as long as parents are selective and choose high-quality programs, they shouldn’t be too concerned about the “ill effects” of television.

And, Christakis says, it can have a positive impact.

Q: So what are some of these “high-quality” shows?

A: Christakis says he gets this question all the time but is hesitant to single out programs. “The 2-5, that’s really kind of the sweet spot of television for children,” he said.

“It’s an age range where there’s an enormous number of quality programs, more all the time.”

He encourages parents to do their research about what constitutes a high-quality show for their family because all children are different.

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