In Greater Good's recent issue on play, our contributors, including psychologist David Elkind, discuss how kids are playing less and less. People are usually quick to blame TV, complaining that kids are playing less because they're watching TV more.

A new study suggests the truth may be even worse. The study, published in the July/August issue of Child Development, found that kids play significantly less if they're simply in a room in which a TV is turned on, even if they're not trying to watch it and even if it's turned to adult programming. Under these conditions, the kids observed in the study, who were all three years old or younger, played for about five percent less time than when a TV wasn't turned on.

What's more, the reseachers found that when the kids did play with a TV on in the background, their play was less focused and lasted for shorter durations of time–about half as long.

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"All of the concerns we have with children watching programming for children still apply to secondhand viewing. It distracts from the work of childhood, from play," says New Orleans pediatrician Daniel Bronfin, quoted in a piece published today about the study by the HealthDay news service.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) already recommends that children two years old and younger not be exposed to any TV at all.

For more on contremporary threats to play–and suggestions for how to revive play–you can check out our recent play issue.

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Restricting television viewing is something every parent should do.  It is one of many parenting behaviors and practices generally recognized as supporting the healthy physical, emotional, and intellectual development of children.
Since parenting has so much to do with the health and well-being of individuals and communities, oughtn’t these parenting behaviors and practices be taught as a matter of course?

David | 5:41 pm, July 16, 2008 | Link

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