Turn Off That TV—You're Disturbing Dr. Greenspan


In another groundbreaking study, the Kaiser Family Foundation discovers that parents use TV to keep their kids occupied. The New York Times story about the study includes comments by parents who not only admit to this secret shame but let the paper use their real names.

The headline over the story is "Parents Making Use of TV Despite Risks." Yet the Times never gets around to explaining exactly what those risks are. Here is the closest it comes:

Dr. Stanley Greenspan, a child psychiatrist and author of books on child development, said the results of the study are troubling.

"We are moving as a society in the wrong direction when it comes to important principles of child direction and development," Dr. Greenspan said. "Parents are being misguided by societal messages, and this study gives us a chance to correct these misperceptions."

Dr. Greenspan and others said that given the trend toward pushing the benefits of educational television and videos for infant and toddler development, more research needs to focus on that area. Studies have proven that educational programs like "Sesame Street" can aid learning for older children. But few studies have focused on developmental outcomes for children under 3.

So because TV has not been conclusively shown to "aid learning" by toddlers, it must be bad for them? What if it merely entertains them while Mom or Dad cooks dinner or takes a phone call?