THERE ARE PLENTY OF OPINIONS OUT THERE about children and their usage of technology. Honestly, it’s a little disconcerting to see a two-year-old who can’t even tie his own shoes deftly navigate Netflix and pull up Orange Is The New Black. The great/overwhelming thing about parenting, though, is that you can make whatever decisions you want about how to raise your children. So, if you want to buy your kid an iPhone 6 for her first day of preschool, you go on and do that, and more power to you. I hear T-Mobile has a great family plan. But some new research is making some compelling statements about just how damaging exposing young children to technology can be. Specifically, that toddlers who watch more TV are more likely to be bullied later in their school years.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavior Pediatrics, charted the TV viewing habits of almost 2,000 kids growing up in Canada. They found that for every increase in 53 minutes of daily TV watching, the rate of being bullied (which the participants self-reported) went up 11 percent.
The researchers came up with a couple different reasons about why this might be the case. One reason is that the more time children spend watching TV, the less time they tend to spend interacting with their family. When children are very young, interacting with family members is going to constitute the majority of their socialization, and they’ll miss out on some of the crucial skills that kind of socialization confers on them.
When kids get socialized by their TVs, they learn to regulate their emotions differently and don’t develop certain areas of the brain that are needed to establish and maintain good relationships. Watching a lot of TV during your developmental years has also been shown to lead to kids making bad eye contact, which can create challenges when they go to school and try to make friends.
However, this could be affected by the type of television shows kids are watching, since it’s been proven that educational shows do have some benefits for young viewers. Even so, science still says playtime is the best type of free time for those little tykes. Maybe less Dora the Explorer, and more actual exploring?