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Babes in Electronic Toyland

by Diane Lofshult on Jan 01, 2004

Wonder where all those computers and video games purchased during the holidays will end up? According to a new study conducted by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, many of these electronic toys will likely find a home in the children’s nursery.

The study, entitled “Zero to Six: Electronic Media in the Lives of Infants, Toddlers and Preschoolers,” offers some chilling facts about the amount of time kids spend using these devices and at what a tender age America’s youth are introduced to electronic media. For example:

  • More than a third of all kids aged 6 and younger have a TV in their bedrooms.

  • Children aged 0 to 6 spend an average of 2 hours a day using screen media, about the same amount of time they spend playing outside.

  • More than 40 percent of toddlers (those under 2) watch television every day.

  • At least 1 in 4 kids in this age bracket has his or her own VCR or DVD, while 7 percent have their own computers.

  • Two-thirds of the kids surveyed live in homes where the TV is left on at least half the time—even when no one is watching.

  • Many parents continue to have a positive view about the time their kids spend in front of the TV and computer, feeling that these devices “mostly help” their children’s intellectual development. (This attitude is in stark contrast to warnings from the American Academy of Pediatrics that parents avoid TV for kids under 2 years old.)

“It’s not just teenagers who are wired up and tuned in,” according to Vicky Rideout, vice president and director of the foundation’s Program for the Study of Entertainment Media and Health. “It’s babies in diapers as well. It’s critical that we learn more about the impact [this exposure is] having on child development.”

The Kaiser study is the first publicly released national survey of media use among America’s youngest children. The data were compiled during a nationally representative phone survey conducted last spring that questioned 1,065 parents with children 6 months to 6 years of age. Copies of the report are available on the foundation’s Web site at

IDEA Health Fitness Source, Volume 2005, Issue 1

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About the Author

Diane Lofshult

Diane Lofshult IDEA Author/Presenter

Diane Lofshult is an award-winning freelance author who specializes in nutrition and weight management topics. She is the founder of In Other Words, an editorial consulting firm based in Solana Beach, California. Reach her at