The telly’s effects on early learning

I wrote about Dr. Dimitri Christakis a few months ago, citing his study of SpongeBob and Caillou. Here he is giving a TED talk, and it is most illuminating:

Pregnant me thought: I wonder if I can find DVDs of Mr. Rogers. Sesame Street has as many rapid sequence changes, but it’s the good ol’ Mr. Rogers that didn’t have an effect on brain patterns or development.

The irony: the legions of parents who thought they were helping their kids via … Baby Einstein videos likely landed themselves kids with behavior problems. From the outset, that’s what I’ve noticed in my kid after tv, and that’s why we abstain: the rest of the day becomes a search for high-stimulus overload, and in its absence, tantrums ensue. No TV, no tantrums.

UPDATE: linked as a Recommended Read by Pundette. Thanks!

UPDATE: Just in case you’re wondering, all of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is available on Amazon streaming. We’re Prime members, so it’s free streaming. We watched how crayons were made and took a trip to Make-Believe Land (remember the trolley car?) this afternoon after playing in the snow with no … ill… effects. So far. ; ) It was a fascinating trip down memory lane and long enough for me to successfully brush all the tangles out of pjKid’s impossibly tangled hair.


9 Responses

  1. Thanks for sharing the TED talk. Something I need to remember. The tv is always an easy babysitter but long term, as with everything in life, easy doesn’t yield positive results.

    • Exactly. I fell off our no-tv wagon out of necessity in December for a few weeks. Pregnant. Exhausted. Husband out of town. Couldn’t keep my eyes open in the afternoon. After a week it wasn’t worth it. We figured out alternative strategies. I wish she still napped, but … if she decides to take one, she’s up until 10pm. Can’t do that, either! So she’s up 7 to 7, usually.

  2. I watched the whole thing. Very insightful. Thanks.

  3. Just saw this today in the WSJ. I don’t envy the French in many ways (namely their socialist ways), but … this article definitely got me thinking about the American parenting/discipline styles. And mine.

    • I love this, Lisa. Thanks. It reminds me of John Rosemond. He’s in that camp of “adult time” in the evenings or immediately after work and chastizes parents who don’t take it.

  4. Your friends (and most parents today) have no idea of what “normal” behavior is. Just take a gander at how most kids act in public and are excused by their parents “because, after all, they’re just kids.” I’m old enough (66 – achhh!) to remember when kids did not act like they do now. Ever!

    • You’re absolutely right. See that article Lisa linked above. You’ll appreciate it, too, Adrienne. pjKid doesn’t get away with a lot in public, or in private. We have our moments, but self-discipline and delayed gratification are the two biggest gifts I can give her (other than a two-parent, loving, Catholic home and a sibling in a few months!)

  5. Read: Endangered Minds: Why Children Don’t Think And What We Can Do About It by Jane M. Healy. It’s the best book on the subject I’ve ever read. She was saying this stuff years and years ago. I think the original publication of her book was 1987. The new addition is 1999. She also has a book on early computer use. (and a few other good subjects.)

    My husband has done extensive study of brain development and how people learn to be used for his teaching of music. This doctor and Dr. Healy are completely correct.

    • @Adrienne, I will look for the book, thanks. I’ve been fascinated by this for a while, because friends and family who think we’re extreme in banning tv say they don’t see the same problems in their own kids, nor do they believe me when I say it leads to tantrums for us. But I know that mine plays solo better, longer, and more creatively than most–and without outside intervention–as long as we abstain from tv.

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