When it comes to media, parents all want to know: How much is too much for my child?
Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician, professor and father of two, has spent a lot of time thinking about the effects of media on young children. Christakis tells NPR’s Arun Rath that not all TV is bad.
Some children’s programs are educational and engaging, he says. But if a TV show is overstimulating, it can lead to developmental problems.
“The medium can be too fast, it’s surreally paced,” he says, “and that can over-stimulate and ultimately damage young brains.”
Some of the evidence for this over-stimulation effect comes from studying mice.
“It’s funny, there’s only so much you can do with live infants,” Christakis says. “So we’ve developed a mouse model of over-stimulation.”
Using a kind of ‘mouse TV’ in the lab, researchers have found that mice that watch a lot of television early in their development have problems later in life. They are hyperactive and take lots of risks that normal mice don’t — for instance, sitting unprotected in an open field, which is a big mistake for a small animal with lots of natural predators. Read more…