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TV isn't educational for babies, report says

TV may be entertaining for tots, but it isn't educational, according to research from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Watching television doesn't help babies learn, and may actually be bad for children under two years-old, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. So bad news if your little one is a fan of Bob the Builder.

Wired reports that media, whether in the background or intended to educate, can "have potentially negative effects and no known positive effects for children younger than 2 years," according to an AAP report released yesterday.

"Although infant/toddler programming might be entertaining, it should not be marketed as or presumed by parents to be educational," it continues. The report says that children don't understand what's happening on-screen until they're older than two. Before then, TV is basically a glowing box that attracts their attention without any benefits.

In fact, television could be harmful to children, as when the TV is on parents talk less, and talking is very important in children's language development, according to a member of the APP committee who wrote the report. It also stops kids playing, which could hinder development.

And while TV may help children fall asleep, it tends to lead to disturbances later in the night. So, pretty bad all round for the young ones then.

Research has barely started into touchscreen devices like iPads, but Ari Brown from the AAP is sceptical as to the educational benefits. She told Wired: "The way these kids' programs came out was, 'These are really educational! They're going to help your kids learn!' Well that's great, but prove it. Show me the science. I don't have a problem with touchscreens, and they're not necessarily bad. But we need to understand how this affects kids."

Anyone who's seen this video of a child thinking a magazine is a broken iPad can't deny these gadgets are definitely more intuitive, and help change the way children think about technology. But at what age should kids be allowed to use them? Let us know your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Image credit: Digital Journal.