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France Eliminates TV Programming Aimed at Toddlers

August 21, 2008 03:46 PM
by Lindsey Chapman
Fearing that television programming for kids 3 and younger could be detrimental, France has banned those shows altogether.

France Stops Programming for Small Kids

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France’s High Audiovisual Council has ruled that the country’s television stations must stop airing programming meant for children age 3 and younger. Christine Albanel, France’s minister for culture and communication, said the programs were “a danger.”

“Television viewing hurts the development of children under three years old,” the Audiovisual Council’s ruling stated. Potential risks include slow language development, trouble sleeping or concentrating, and over-excitedness. The goal of the ruling is to stop the development of programming for babies on French television. French cable operators that air this type of programming from foreign sources have also been instructed to air a message that warns parents of the potential effects of television for kids under 3.

Opinion & Analysis: Is TV helpful or harmful?

Several studies have suggested that there are connections between problems in young children and too much TV watching. Recently, psychologists reported that it is harder for kids ages 1 to 3 to concentrate when a TV is on. During a study conducted at the University of Massachusetts, researchers found that when kids played with a television on in the background, they were less focused and played for shorter amounts of time than when the television was turned off. Dr. Marie Evans Schmidt, who led the research, said television was possibly a “chronic environmental risk factor” for most kids.

A child’s ability to read may also be at risk if the television is on too much. In 2003, a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Children’s Digital Media Centers found that in “heavy TV households,” 34 percent of kids age 4 to 6 could read, versus 56 percent of kids in homes that watched less television.

Austan Goolsbee of Slate takes issue with many studies of the effects of television viewing on young children. Generally, the studies compare children who watch a lot of television with those who don’t. “Kids in those two groups live in very different environments,” Goolsbee argues. Economically-advantaged youngsters “have all sorts of things going for them that have nothing to do with the impact of television.”

Related Topic: Computers for youngsters

Reference: Parenting resources

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