TV and Child Development

The American Academy for Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under the age of 2.

How does TV affect the development of the children we serve?

  • 0-3 years old are learning language – language is learned from face to face interactions with another person (watching their mouth, expressions…) not from a cartoon (that does not move naturally). TV characters do not smile back to your child or react to their interactions.
  • 0-3 years old imitate to learn – they will imitate what they see on TV including bad behaviors (many cartoons and TV shows geared at children show dangerous behaviors, aggressive behavior, and distort reality with their cartoonish and unnatural depiction of the world). Young children are unable to separate truth from fiction.
  • 0-3 years old are at a developmental stage of sensory exploration, learning about the world – learning can only happen through DOING (can you change oil in a car after only watching a video of how to do it?). Babies that watch TV are more likely to have shorter attention spans, problems concentrating, and impulsive behavior by age 7.
  • 0-3 years old are learning how to move – sitting in front of a TV does not provide motor practice.
  • 0-3 years old are developing their vision – watching TV requires divergence (used when looking at far away objects), while reading and school work requires convergence.
  • Habits that are learned early are harder to break later.
  • TV is a 2D world vs. the real world we live in and interact in.


Compiled by Sara Torten MS, OTR/L