It’s time to ask this tough question of your caregiver: How much time is the TV on while my child is with you?

A study in the journal Pediatrics reports that children may be spending as much as one-third of their waking hours in front of a TV each day. Read more here.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no tv time for children under two and only one to two hours a day of the good stuff for older children.

There are at least two problems with TV viewing in young children:

First, for every minute they sit in front of the tv, they lose a minute of active learning somewhere else. They are not playing with blocks or digging in the sandbox or banging the pots and pans. They are not crawling, pushing, pulling, climbing, looking, talking, pretending. They are losing precious minutes of active learning.

Second, children’s brains are growing in number of neurons and in number of connections made between them at the fastest rate they will ever grow. We simply do not know at this point what effect electronic devices have on how the brain is wired. My gut tells me, though, that high flicker rate screens are not good for the electrical circuitry of the growing brain. Until we do know, erring on the side of caution and allowing children the chance to play in the ways their brains are already programmed to play seems the best course.

Finally, we do know that watching tv and just having the tv on both delay language development in children. And language development is the strongest predictor of how a child will do in school later.

It’s easy for them. It’s easy for you. But turn it off. Insist that your child’s caregivers turn it off. Raising children is not easy but we need to give them our best, even when it is harder.

You can do it!