Television and your toddlers

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Many parents are tempted to resort to using television or a video as a babysitter. But the sad truth is that watching too much TV would stiffle your child's thinking and development. Too much TV is never good for your child. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that children should watch TV no more than an hour or two a day, and that children under 2 should watch no television at all.

Here are tips on how to use television as a learning tool.

Limit the amount of TV your toddler watches
Since your child is under age 2, it's best to keep TV-watching to a bare minimum. If you choose to allow some television, break it up into 15-minute increments. Much more than that, and your toddler's brain can shift to autopilot.

Once your child hits 2, limit his total viewing time to an hour a day — even that amount is a lot for an active toddler. You should also keep the television out of your child's bedroom and turned off during meal times.

Watch programs, not television
Rather than sitting down to watch whatever happens to be on, carefully select the program your toddler's going to watch, and turn off the set when that program is over.

Choose calm, quiet programs
Slower-paced viewing gives your toddler time to think about what he's watching and absorb the information. Lots of action and quickly changing images will only confuse him or make his eyes glaze over.

Research has suggested that children who watch violence on TV are more likely to display aggressive behavior. Avoid scary shows, too. Instead, choose simple programs that emphasize interactivity. The best shows are those that inspire your child to makes sounds, say words, sing, and dance.

Watch with your toddlers and help him watch with a critical eye
Watch with your toddler to show that you care. Explain what's going on in the show, and encourage your child to ask questions and relate what's happening in the show to his own life.

Extend the show's content with activities or books
If you and your toddler have just finished watching a Sesame Street segment that introduces a number, talk about it later and find other examples to show him.

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