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How television and other media affect infant development (5/10/2011)

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Although pediatricians discourage any media viewing before age 2, most infants are watching. Studies show that 90 percent of infants regularly watch television, spending roughly 30 percent of their waking hours in front of a screen. But what does this mean for brain development?

A panel of experts - a neuroscientist, a developmental pediatrician, a pediatric epidemiologist and a child psychologist - will discuss the effects of media on infant development during a symposium at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting Monday, May 2, in Denver, Colo. The session is from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. MT in the Colorado Convention Center.

"Although 90 percent of children regularly watch TV before the age of 2, research into the effects of media exposure on infants is itself in its infancy," said Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, FAAP, of Seattle Children's Research Institute at the University of Washington in Seattle. "This symposium will bring together leading researchers to bring the audience up to date on the current status of the science."

The symposium will address theories about how media affect infants, the science of newborn brain physiology, as well as the latest data on what infants can - and cannot - learn from watching television. Dr. Christakis will give two lectures during the session, titled "Infant Media Usage: From Bench to Bedroom," and "Early TV Exposure and Attentional Problems and Language Delay."

Additional topics include:

  • "Media Usage and Child Development in Low Income Populations" - Alan Mendelsohn, MD, FAAP, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY

  • "Neuronal Mechanisms Underlying ADHD" - Nino Ramirez, PhD, Seattle Children's Research Institute, University of Washington, Seattle WA

  • "Transfer of Learning from Books, Touch Screens and Television During Infancy" - Rachel Barr, PhD, Georgetown University, Washington, DC
  • Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics

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