Electronic Media and Young Children (page 2)

By — California Childcare Health Program
Updated on Feb 18, 2011

What can we do?

Below are several tips for protecting children from the adverse effects of electronic media.

  • Television and electronic media are inappropriate for children from birth to 24 months, under any circumstances. Educate parents not to use television to entertain or educate these youngest and most vulnerable children. Infants and toddlers need frequent human interaction for social, emotional and cognitive development.
  • Child care settings should consider a television-free policy for children of all ages, particularly if the children are being exposed to electronic media at home.
  • For children age 2 years and over, caregivers and parents should limit television viewing to educational programs designed for children. In child care settings where there is some television present, children should be exposed to it only for short periods of time.
  • Don’t leave young children alone with television or electronic games on. Stay with them to monitor the content of the media and their reactions.
  • Answer any questions they have about what they are seeing. Television and other electronic media should not be used as a “baby sitter” of young children.
  • Teach children to be critical viewers of commercial messages.
  • Evaluate the nutritional value of foods promoted on television, and offer children healthy alternatives.
  • Educate families to create and implement an electronic media policy at home. The policy should provide children with clear guidance about how much and what types of programs and games are permitted. All of the adults in the setting should agree on the policy and enforce it consistently.

References and Resources

Kaiser Family Foundation (2005). The effects of electronic media on children ages zero to six: A history of research. Retrieved March 18, 2005 at

American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Public Education (1999). Media education; Pediatrics; 104(2): 341-343

American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Public Education (2001). Children, Adolescents, and Television. Pediatrics; 107(2): 423-426.

Wright, J.C. et al. (2001). The relations of early television viewing to school readiness and vocabulary of children from low income families: The early window project; Child Development; 72(5):1347-66.

Christakis, D.A. et al. (2004). Early television exposure and subsequent attentional problems in children. Pediatrics; 113(4): 708-713.

Fact Sheet for Families: Computers and Young Children. (2004).
California Childcare Health Program.

Health & Safety Note: The Value of Play. (2004).
California Childcare Health Program.

Fact Sheet for Families: Childhood Obesity. (2004).
California Childcare Health Program.

Fact Sheet for Families: Overweight and Obesity. (2005).
California Childcare Health Program.

California Childcare Health Program
1950 Addison Street, Suite 107
Berkeley, CA 94704-1182Telephone 510–204-0930
Fax 510–204-0931
Healthline 1-800-333-3212

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