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A Blog from New America's Early Education Initiative

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In TIME: Background TV, Toys, and Toddlers

Published:  December 4, 2012

The holiday season can lead parents to fixate on finding the perfect toy. But it's worth thinking not only about the toy, but about the environment around it. In a piece for TIME's Ideas column this week, I write about research on background television's impact on how 1-, 2- and 3-year-old children play with toys.

There is growing concern in child development about the impact of having a TV on in the background — a common phenomenon in American households. Children under eight are exposed to four hours of background TV on a typical day, and those under 2 are getting an average of five and a half, according to a recent issue of Pediatrics. In USA TODAY, scientists dubbed this “second-hand TV”. Several recent studies show that the more young children are exposed to a TV showing programs for adults, the lower the children’s language and thinking skills.

Several years ago, research conducted at the University of Massachusetts illuminated one reason why.

To read the full article, go here.

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