Published On: Wed, Apr 16th, 2014

Have an irritable toddler? Here’s one simple solution

ToddlerA new study shows "fussy kids" — or children that have difficulty calming themselves — stare at screens more frequently than their complacent counterparts,according to Joan Raymond at Today.

Researchers at Boston Medical Center find toddlers exposed to the most TV are the most irritable. Furthermore, the study shows "persistently difficult toddlers are 40 percent more likely to develop problematic media habits at age 2, with more than 2 hours of their day spent in front of a screen," Raymond wrote.

Dr. Jenny Radesky, the study's lead author, explained exposing young children to media in order to calm them (which some parents do to deal with upset toddlers) is problematic because these children will not learn to soothe themselves, per Raymond. "One of the major developmental tasks of children is to learn how to keep still and focus, how to deal with the various stressors and stimuli they encounter," Radesky said.

Another recent study, conducted by Oxford University and Open University, also demonstrates that toddlers should not be exposed to much television, reports Sarah Harris at The Daily Mail. These researchers surmise toddlers who engage in active pursuits — such as painting and crafts — develop better speech and motor skills than toddlers who watch TV (or even look at picture books, though TV has a more negative impact).

Children participating in active play are also happier, explained researchers. "More time spent watching television means less time spent doing other things that might bring more active happiness or development," said Dr. Laurence Roope, a researcher at Oxford University, according to Daily Mail.

"It may be that in children's make-up, they are learning machines and they're pre-disposed to enjoy some of these more active development activities. Or it could just be about the passive nature of watching TV, which doesn't necessarily get them going," Roope said.

However, others believe TV is fine for children in moderation, per Saundra Young at CNN.

"TV that is watched with a parent that is developmentally appropriate for a child can be a positive experience for both the parent and the child," Dr. Mary Pipan, a behavioral pediatrician at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told CNN. "It's a content question and an amount question."

"And the bottom line is it's not so much what appropriate TV does to children, it's what it takes them away from: socializing and physically active play," Pipan said.

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