American infants are avid television viewers, so much so that almost one in five babies rooms sport a television set. A parallel study also found that 40 percent of babies are sworn friends with the television by the age of 3 months and 90 percent by age 2.
According to a survey by University of Texas researchers, 63 percent of two and below two year old regularly watch TV; 54% can switch it on or off at will. On an average babies watch about one hour and 11 minutes each day- it was also observed that parents gave their children exclusive TV sets to avoid disturbance during their programmes.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has cautioned against television for kids under two, as it is thought to interfere with brain development. Further it is thought to hamper development of social skills, which babies pick up with interaction.
Elizabeth Vandewater, the lead author of the University of Texas study, feels it is imperative for parents to vet the television programmes before kids watch them, as some of the programs telecast may not exactly be tailored for kids. In her opinion, some of the programs are deceptive.
Donald Shifrin, the current chair of the AAP's committee on communications, said, "We stand by our recommendation to discourage and avoid, not forbid. We are basically conducting an uncontrolled experiment on nonverbal kids, and parents should be concerned about that. We are pleading with parents for at least prudence."