Too Much TV Shortens Kids' Attention Span - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/19/04 - Tyler

Too Much TV Shortens Kids' Attention Span

Television is commonly used as a babysitter by parents who are busy doing other things. In fact, a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows about 40 percent of kids under 2 watch TV every day. Pediatricians say those children will more likely have concentration problems once they start school.

One stay-at-home mother in Tyler, Lottie Heaston, closely monitors what her 4-year-old daughter, Katie, gets to watch.

"We don't let her watch very much TV," Heaston said. "We let her watch some videos. We certainly with the PBS stations, we let all the learning channels."

But pediatricians say too much educational programming can be bad too, if it's not supplemented with live interaction.

"She loves Barney," Heaston said. "And he is like a very important part of our home. So we have a lot of the manners and etiquette."

Heaston then takes those lessons and translates them into real-life scenarios for Katie, like letting her throw her own tea party and practicing her etiquette.

Teachers say habits at home translate into habits in the classroom. Lori Thomas, a kindergarten teacher at Orr Elementary in Tyler, says kids' attention spans have gotten shorter over the 10 years she has taught elementary school.

"We feel like we're in competition sometimes," Thomas said. "When they're watching TV, things change like every two minutes. The images and the things flash around every two minutes, whereas in real life, it doesn't do that."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV for children younger than 2 and no more than two hours of high-quality programming for older kids.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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