Adults told to interact with kids viewing TV

March 8, 2012 12:00 am

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When a young child is watching TV or a video, it's best if the child interacts with an adult instead of just watching passively, according to a statement on the use of media released Wednesday.

Even if it's "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."

The Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media at Saint Vincent College -- founded to carry on Mr. Rogers' mission of early childhood education -- was part of the joint statement.

The statement, made in conjunction with the National Association for the Education of Young Children, provides guidance on the use of media and interactive technology in early childhood programs, covering birth through age 8.

The guidance is aimed at programs, although some of the ideas could be useful at home as well.

The report notes that "special considerations must be given to the use of technology with infants and toddlers."

It recommends against the passive use of TV, videos, DVDs and other noninteractive technologies and media in programs for children younger than 2 years old and discourages it for those ages 2 to 5.

As for interactive uses for children under age 2, it says the uses should be limited to "those that appropriately support responsive interactions between caregivers and children and strengthen adult-child relationships."

The report notes: "While some parents may claim that baby videos can calm an otherwise fussy child, there is little research to suggest that infants and toddlers learn from watching videos.

"If infants are distressed, they need the comfort of a caring adult, not an electronic toy."

Rita Catalano, executive director of the Fred Rogers Center, said the joint statement is intended to give guidance to early childhood professionals.

"What we're encouraging is the use of media that has some potential," Ms. Catalano said.

She said, "It's up to those early childhood professionals to determine what's appropriate for the children in their setting.

"If the decision to watch 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood' or any other television program is intentional and is an occasion for interaction, talk between adults and children, it could be considered appropriate."

More information on the joint statement is available at

First Published 2012-03-07 23:19:33

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