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Mother Was Right!

By: Donna Martin

Shortly after I was born, my parents bought the newest invention of the modern age, their first television set.  My mother was worried that the addition of the new television set into our family might keep me from getting the attention that I needed.  As it turns out my mother was very forward thinking for her time. 

Studies today have shown that having a television turned on even if no one is watching it reduces the communication between parent and child.  The normal amount of words that a parent speaks to a toddler in one hour is 940, but when the television is on, even if no one is watching it, the amount of words spoken in an hour is reduced to 770.

Studies have shown that being exposed to television and other devices with screens (phone, ipads, etc.) can have detrimental effects on children under the age of 18 months in the following areas:

  • learning to pay attention
  • reading skills
  • developing short term memory
  • sleep habits
  • language development

Between 18 months and 5 years screen time should be limited to not more than one hour a day, and parents should view the programs with the child. (This was another area in which my mother was wise.  As children we were only allowed to watch one program on Saturday mornings.)  Of course what the child watches is also important.  Children quickly pick up on bad words and inappropriate behaviors, so make sure what your children watch reflect your values.

What babies and toddlers need most in order to develop properly is interaction with their parents or other caregivers.  Time passes so quickly.  Make the most of every moment you have with your child.

The Martins are available to present “Happy Together” Marriage Enrichment Events for churches and organizations.  To schedule an event call Michael at 940-735-1515. They are certified “Prepare/Enrich” Facilitators and are available to work with couples on an individual basis using the “Prepare/Enrich Assessment.”  They publish a weekly “Happy Together” Blog about family and marriage issues.  You can order copies of their new books Dancing With Death and 366 Tidbits We Have Learned in 14,610 Days of Marriage, read, and subscribe to their “Happy Together” Blog by logging onto the Martin’s website at

(Hill, David, MD, FAAP, October 20, 2016, American Academy of Pediatrics,

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