TAMPA - It's lunchtime at Kelly Miller's house. Five-year-old Abby is watching Sid the Science Kid on TV. It's a good choice, according to a new study published online Monday by The Journal of Pediatrics.
The study showed that teaching parents to switch channels from violent shows to educational TV can improve pre-schooler's behavior, even without getting them to watch less. Kelly Miller says, "I don't prescreen, per se, but I don't make sure there isn't violence, but if there's something violent coming on, I would definitely change the channel."
Dr. James Orlowski, head of pediatrics at Florida Hospital Tampa, says that's important because the brain is still developing at Abby's age. "It still develops all the way up to age nine, but the greatest growth is in the three-to-five-year range."
The research involved 565 parents. Half were coached for six months on getting their kids to watch shows like Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer rather than more violent programs like Power Rangers.
Doctor Orlwoski says, "Any of us who have children know they'll watch Power Rangers on TV and then the next thing they're doing is engaging in mock battles with one another."
Christina Canody is a pediatrician in Tampa. "It not only affects their home life but their school life, so we get complaints ‘What am I going to do with them?' ‘Johnny is getting kicked out of school for fighting.' Or he's' hitting other people. We really have to address those behaviors early on.
Dr. Canody says TV should be limited for the first two years.
Dr Orlowski recommends preschool kids get at most one to two hours of TV per day. This study shows that educational TV will give your kids the most short- and long-term benefit.
But parents, it's important to note the study said you didn't necessarily have to get your kids to watch less TV to improve their behavior - just pick the right types of shows.