Toddlers ‘will learn nothing from TV’

12 May 2006

The notion that young children can learn productively by watching television is widely dismissed by scientists who study the developing brain.

The time between the ages of 6 months and 3 years is accepted as a critical phase for learning skills such as language, and research suggests that this is best accomplished by interaction with adults. …

Dr Sarah-Jayne Blakemore [UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience] said that the best evidence suggested television for toddlers was a waste of time. “There is a body of research showing that, in a variety of contexts, young children learn optimally with another human, rather than with a video of a human,“ said Dr Blakemore, the co-author, with Professor Uta Frith [UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience], of ‘The Learning Brain’.

Dr Blakemore added: “If an infant is watching TV for an hour a day, then fine. So long as they are also playing with adults and children for most of the day, it is not going to do them any harm, though it will do no good either.”

Mark Henderson, ‘The Times’