Despite generations of parents telling their children that sitting too close to the TV screen will damage their eyes, this is one of the biggest myths of the 21st century. Optometrists around the world have proven there is no link between long hours of watching TV and a change in your child’s vision. But it’s worth knowing there are certain problems that can stem from too much screen time.
Dimitri A Christakis, Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine discovered a definite link between children who watched excessive amounts of TV (more than two hours a day) developing ADHD up to the age of seven. This is because watching TV is a passive activity. Your child’s brain is not stimulated whilst watching television, so it cannot grow and develop. As a result, they will have lots of energy that they have not channelled into anything else and can become hyperactive. The outcome can lead to a short attention span and difficulty concentrating in school later in life.
To stop this from happening, be sure to break up the time your toddler watches television with other activities. Have them practice writing or drawing, or suggest they help you bake in the kitchen. Holding pens and spoons is excellent for developing their fine motor skills and muscles. You can reward their hard work with some well-earned television time; an hour is more than enough.
Another problem with leaving your toddler for hours in front of the television is that they do not venture outside. Outdoor play is vital in developing your child’s depth perception. Looking into the distance exercises the toddler’s eye muscles and makes them stronger. This can’t happen if they are stuck in front of the television, so take them bird watching or out for a walk and point out things in the distance for them to notice.
There is no exact answer for how much screen time a toddler should have. The best thing you can do is not rely on the TV to babysit them, avoid having a bright television on in a dark room and ask them questions about the programme they are watching to stimulate their minds