Books Versus TV
Reading to a toddler for just 15 to 20 minutes per day adds up to 168 to 224 hours from ages one to three. On the other hand, watching just 1 hour of TV per day adds up to 730 to 1,460 hours from ages one to three! Parents read an average of 8.9 books per week to toddlers, according to a 1994 study.
Considering that toddler attention spans are under 10 minutes, that probably means the average child spent less than 90 minutes per week with books — the equivalent of only three cartoon shows. Keep your priorities straight!
Informative kids' shows, such as those found on PBS, are okay. But add Mr. Roger's Neighborhood to Sesame Street, and your child is already up to one hour of TV per day. Resist the allure of the electronic baby sitter. Your child can learn more from interacting with you.
Although television provides nonstop language exposure, experts agree that optimal learning occurs from experiencing the world firsthand. Watching others experience it on TV is a poor alternative. However, the children's TV show Sesame Street is an exception and should be fine for older toddlers.
When compared to children who watched cartoons or other programs and to youngsters who watched little or no TV, Sesame Street viewers had significantly larger vocabularies in first grade. Toddlers who watch mostly cartoons score much lower in tests of vocabulary, paragraph comprehension, and letter and word recognition at age seven than those who watch mostly Sesame Street and other informative children's programs.