Recent research, by Daniel Anderson, professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts, looked at the impact of background TV while toddlers were playing. 50 kids aged 1 to 3 were observed for an hour of play, half in silence and half with “Jeopardy” playing in the background. During the TV-free half hour, researchers observed signs of the toddlers being focused on learning, “The child gets an intent look on their face, they lean into the toy, their extraneous body movements decrease. When they’re in that state, they’re much more likely to learn” according to Anderson.
In contrast, when “Jeopardy” was on in the background, researchers found that kids played only half as long as when they had a quiet environment for play. They occasionally glanced at the TV, were less focused in play and visibly less calm.
Since the statistics tell us that in the average home, the TV is often left on, providing “background noise” interrupting focused learning in our toddlers, as parents we need to monitor the on-off switch. Bringing your baby or toddler into the TV room to spend time while you watch a show doesn’t provide the best environment for learning. Take the time to be the “commentator” while they play, talking about the features of the toy they choose, or let them entertain themselves in quiet.