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Television & Toddlers

August 3, 1999, 12:00 AM

HealthBeat at 6: TV & Toddlers
The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling on parents to keep the T-V knob turned off There's nothing "canned" about the sounds of kids at play. Shannon Hohwieler, a daycare provider says, "We have so many other options. We do crafts and the sensory table and all educational things." No laugh track to encourage the giggles. "There's a lot of programming that shouldn't be on for young kids," says Hohwieler. No commercial breaks. "I feel like the communication and the learning how to play with others, relate to others, all that we get through play and through other activities." That's because at Shannon Hohwieler's day care, there's no T-V. "TV-you know, it's such a one-on-one thing." And that could actually get in the way of your child's development. That's why the nation's largest group of children's doctors says leave the screen black until kids are at least two, and after that kids should watch no more than 2 hours a day. Dr Richard Kaplan, a Sioux Falls Pediatrician says, "I'd be comfortable with that, but how realistic is it? I think what it should be is a platform for us to discuss with families how they're using TV." The hope is here is that an early start without TV for children like these will actually improve their common skills and their learning level. "It's not a place to stick 'em and go away someplace and I think that's what the academy is trying to express," says Dr Kaplan. The Academy of Pediatrics is also asking doctors to get more involved with the media's influence on kids-by asking them to use a questionnaire with parents. It asks such questions not only about T-V, but also about how much video watching, web surfing and music your kids listen to. How is that supposed to help? The idea to to help identify behavior problems that may develop as a result of exposure to some of the media's images early enough to correct them from becoming even bigger issues.

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