The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two do not watch any TV. Why would they recommend this??? One important reason is because the first two years of life are considered a critical time for brain development (Kids Health Org, 2011).
Let’s first discuss how our brains work. Our brains contain neurons which are the functioning core of it. Each neuron contains branches or dendrites that emerge from the cell body. These dendrites take chemical signals across a synapse and the impulse then travels the length of the axon. Each axon has a sac which contains neurotransmitters at its tip. So, an electrical impulse then causes the release of the neurotransmitters which stimulate or prevent neighboring dendrites.
A remarkable increase in synapses occurs during the first year of life. The brain develops a functional architecture through the development of these synapses or connections.
The increase in synaptic density in a child's brain can be seen in figure 1. The interactions that parents assist with in a child's environment are what spur the growth and pattern of these connections in the brain.
As the synapses in a child's brain are strengthened through repeated experiences, connections and pathways are formed that structure the way a child learns. If a pathway is not used, it's eliminated based on the "use it or lose it" principle. Things you do a single time, either good or bad, are somewhat less likely to have an effect on brain development.
When a connection is used repeatedly in the early years, it becomes permanent. For example, when adults repeat words and phrases as they talk to babies, babies learn to understand speech and strengthen the language connections in the brain.
An article from the Deseret News showed that babies are capable of lip reading. A study was done on 180 babies ages 4 to 12 months old and scientists found that they don’t just learn to talk from hearing sounds. They are able to lip-read. Around 6 months of age is when babies begin to shift their eyes from intent eye gazing to studying mouths when people talk to them. This shows that quality face -time with your child is very important for speech development; more than turning on the latest DVD. The coos of early infancy start changing around age 6 months and then grow into the syllables of the baby’s native language until the first word comes out, usually right before age 1. By babies first birthday they start shifting back to look at you in the eye again, except if they hear the unfamiliar sounds of a foreign language. Then, they stay with lip-reading a little bit longer.
Here’s the complete article: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700215947/Study-Babies-try-lip-reading-in-learning-to-talk.html?s_cid=s10
Since the year 1993, 3 studies done, have evaluated the effects of heavy television use on language development in children 8 to 6 months of age. These studies have shown that in the short term, children younger than 2 years old who watch more television or videos have expressive language delays. They also found that children younger than 1 year with heavy television viewing who are watching TV by themselves, have a significantly higher chance of having a language delay.
Also, in order for a show to be educational your child needs to be able to understand the content and context of the video. Many of these videos tailored for infants or toddlers claim to be educational, but studies have shown that children under the age of two do not have the understanding yet.
Furthermore, TV can get in the way of exploring, playing, and interacting with parents and others, which all encourage learning and healthy physical and social development ( Kids Health Organization, 2011)