Dr T. Berry Brazelton, the child development expert and co-author of Touchpoints Three to Six, agrees with the American Academy of Pediatrics' advice restricting children under 2 from watching TV.
"Everything points to the fact that it's very demanding on a young child's physiology to be placed in front of a TV screen," he says.
Dr. Brazelton explains that while a human being can adapt to a child, get into the child's rhythm, and be aware of his or her state, "a machine can't do that," and that therefore the resources a child needs to pay attention to a fast-moving TV screen can be costly.
"My own research shows that a child is adapted to try to fit in with social interaction," he says. Something as ephemeral as a TV screen can drain a child's resources, but a person can react and withdraw according to the child's own pattern. Everything, even diapering, can be a learning opportunity when a parent is in this rhythm with a child.
Dr. Brazelton believes that for older children, an hour a day of TV is the maximum parents should allow. During that time, parents should be there to help children understand what they are viewing and to ensure they are not being overstimulated.