TV 'Rewires'
Childrens' Brains -
Leads To ADD 
by Jean Lotus

A study from the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that watching videos as a toddler may lead to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD, also called ADD in UK) in later life.
TV watching "rewires" an infant's brain, says Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis lead researcher and director of the Child Health Institute at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, Seattle, Wash. The damage shows up at age 7 when children have difficulty paying attention in school.
"In contrast to the way real life unfolds and is experienced by young children, the pace of TV is greatly sped up." says Christakis. His research appears in the April 2004 issue of Pediatrics. Quick scene shifts of video images become "normal," to a baby "when in fact, it's decidedly not normal or natural." Christakis says. Exposing a baby's developing brain to videos may overstimulate it, causing permanent changes in developing neural pathways.
"Also in question is whether the insistent noise of television in the home may interfere with the development of 'inner speech' by which a child learns to think through problems and plans and restrain impulsive responding," wrote Jane Healy, psychologist and child brain expert in the magazine's commentary.
Babies brains grow rapidly
Even a child playing with its own fingers has the neural patterning that comes from bending, flexing, stretching and grasping. Scientists tell us that the brain develops in completely unique ways between birth and three years. As a kiddie viddie baby sits "mesmerized", neural paths are not being created. This is crucial brain development that stops by age three.
"You don't want to think that something as innocent as half-an-hour's peace and quiet could reduce your kid's chances later in life," says Claire Eaton, 27-year-old mother from Lewisham, Australia.
Setting up baby for failure in school
Are parents who use infant videos such as "Baby Einstein" and "Teletubbies" putting their child at risk for a lifetime of Special Ed classes, school "behavioral therapy" and Ritalin?
In the study of more than 2,000 children, Christakis found that for every hour watched at age one and age three, the children had almost a ten percent higher chance of developing attention problems that could be diagnosed as ADHD by age 7. A toddler watching three hours of infant television daily had nearly a 30 percent higher chance of having attention problems in school.
Infant videos: They wouldn't sell them if they were dangerous --Would they?
An explosion of kidvids for the bouncy chair set has hit the market. These include Baby Einstein, Baby Mozart, So Smart etc. TV shows, such as Teletubbies, aim at 18-month-old toddlers. These videos are peddled as "educational tools" to "give your baby a head start." The truth is, they are a video-tether that keeps baby out from underfoot.
"Max is learning German right now from a video"
Parents take away crucial life experiences from their child every time they pop in Baby Einstein. But they do love how it takes the baby out of their hair for awhile Listen to what parents say in testimonials about infant videos:
"I love spending time with my boy but let's face it, there are times when you just have to have 10 minutes or so to yourself so that you can wash the dishes or do laundry; that's when you pop this video in. It's 25 minutes of entertainment that holds the attention of even very young children. ," (son 10 months) Chris Hudson from San Antonio, TX.
There are times I rewind it and play it again and again until I get the dishes done and order restored. My son is captivated (and hopefully learning something). Mom I n Connecticut
The only thing I wish is that the videos were longer than 30min. Melissa Perruzi, Clinton Mississippi
(From Baby Eisntein reviews on
Big problem for little people
Twenty-six percent of US children younger than age two have TV in their bedrooms - often watched from the crib, and 36 percent of families leave the TV on almost all of the time, even when no one is watching, according to a 2000 Kaiser Family Foundation study.
Don't put your child at risk!
The good news is, infants and toddlers don't need television to distract them. Humans raised children for 50,000 years before television sets and you can do it too. Your children can learn to entertain themselves or play with your supervision.
"When one-year olds are playing with a toy, they can explore it, poke at it, drop it," says Yale University Television Researcher Dorothy Singer. "They're learning about space, about sound, and they're developing sense of competence. Watching a TV show just doesn't provide the same sensory experience."
Leaving a child alone with the TV is never a good idea.
"Would you entrust you toddler into the care of a baby sitter, even for a few minutes, who cannot hear or see your child?" writes Nancy Hall of Yale University's Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy. "Would you leave your child in an environment that encourages passivity, limits creativity and results in increased aggressive behavior? Many 1-year-olds are spending time regularly with just such a baby sitter: the television set."
What is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?
ADHD affects 12 percent of US school children and has increased dramatically over the past 50 years. Studies show ADHD increased with the introduction of children's television in the 1950s and then spiked higher in the mid 1980s when VCRs and home video became commonplace. Although the condition is known to be genetic, scientists have noted its rapid spread throughout every social class of children, and guessed that there could be an environmental cause. TV watching is a cause, this study shows.
How much TV should I let my baby watch?
No child under age two should watch television at all, the Academy of American Pediatrics advised in 1998. Doctors blame TV for increasing aggression and obesity in children, now they add ADHD risk to early TV use.

How To Break TV Addiction
Tips from a White Dot mother of four TV-free children:
Five Ways to Distract Baby while You Wash Dishes
* Let baby hold and explore kitchen tools. Blunt tools such as tongs, potato mashers and measuring cups are fascinating to the crawling set. My small kids get bored of the smooth-plastic baby toys and long for "real world" objects like measuring spoons. I dole them out (with supervision) while I wash dishes or try to clean up. A leg-grabbing child who's whining to be carried can be distracted by an unexplored kitchen device for several minutes.
* Create mega-playpens with baby gates. The hall in our first apartment made a fabulous "baby run" when I propped a gate at either end. My son would screech when popped into a regular playpen, but was content watching me and playing with his toys while in his "exercise yard."
* Feed baby a snack while your elbows are in the suds. Strap her into a high chair, so she can't get into trouble, fling Cheerios on the tray and away you go.
* Keep up a running conversation with baby. Act silly, sing to radio, dance around. You're so much more entertaining than a plastic box.
* Permit kitchen exploration. Keep unbreakable cups, plastic plates and Tupperware in a lower cabinet. Allow baby to remove and explore them while you work. Make a cheerful game out of putting them away afterwards. Once your child starts creating nesting stacks out of the tupperware containers, you'll really have a Baby Einstein on your hands!
Six Helpful Ways to Get Going in the Morning without TV
* Give child her own alarm clock. Grouchy morning people hate to be bossed around when they wake up. Let the clock bear the brunt of your child's resentment! Let the obnoxious repetitive beeping save your voice.
* Set out clothes (yours and the kids') the night before. Or at least be able to locate clean socks for everyone before the morning rush.
* Everybody dressed-to-the-shoes before breakfast. Breakfast to a hungry child is a great motivator. On the other hand, a full tummy makes the need to get dressed less pressing--and Legos more interesting--especially to a five-year-old. I try to entice kids rather than nag them to get dressed. "Let's get you all set up for breakfast. What kind of cereal are you going to have after you're dressed?"
* Get up half an hour earlier yourself. (Ugh.) You can do it if you make it worth your while to get up. Set the goal to be dressed and showered before the kids awake. I set up the coffee pot the night before, make time to read the newspaper, work on projects. It's worth it to become a morning person for that silent time without Pint-Sized Breakfast Tyrants.
* Start the morning with an empty sink. Of course, now that you're not watching TV after dinner every night you have a chance to wash the dishes before you go to bed, right? Facing dirty dishes in the morning poisons my whole day.
* Put on your own oxygen mask first. It's time to go. Get yourself ready and then get the kids set up. Put on your own coat, get your stuff together. If someone is pitching a tantrum about shoes, you can throw them in the diaper bag and leave anyway. If a squirming child refuses to dress for the weather, I throw a jacket over my arm and, usually, have it available. Sometimes, if we're going to be inside or in the car, I skip the coat. If a certain two-year-old takes off shoes on every single car trip, I let her walk into the house barefoot, making sure she carries the shoes and socks herself.
Five Tips for taking a shower without the television
* Take advantage of nap time. Put off cleaning up until baby is asleep.
* Let baby play in the bathroom. (Of course, you will have put all cleaning supplies in hard-to-reach places.) We keep a basket of large shells in the bathroom. I block the bathroom door with a baby gate and the kids love to play with shells. Play peek-a-boo around shower curtain every-so-often to keep tabs on baby.
* Shower at night. There's an old saying, "A shower the night before is worth two hours in the morning." All the more true when you have little children.
* Take super-short showers. Schedule time-consuming shower activities like hair-washing and leg-shaving for every other day. Then take quick rinse-off showers on other days.
* Take shower with your toddler. It can be done, as long as you're patient and get in and out quickly. Toddlers



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