Washington: The temptation to rely on a surfeit of TV programmes for 'educating' babies and toddlers seems to have become a trend among parents. But playing may actually be a far better way to make them learn than passive TV watching.

Young children learn best from and need interaction with humans, not screens. Parents who watch TV or videos with their child may add to the child's

understanding, but children learn more from live presentations than from televised ones, says an American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) report.

In a recent survey, 90 percent of parents said their children under age two watch some form of TV. On an average, children this age watch televised programmes one to two hours daily, the journal Pediatrics reports.

By the age of three, almost a third of children have a TV in their bedroom. Parents who believe that educational TV is "very important for healthy development" are twice as likely to keep the TV on all or most of the time.

Ari Brown, member of the AAP Council on Communications and Media, who co-authored the report, provided guidance on media use for children under age two in 1999, including a recommendation that discouraged TV viewing for them.

"The concerns raised in the original policy statement are even more relevant now, which led us to develop a more comprehensive piece of guidance around this age group," said Brown.
The key findings of the AAP report are that while video programmes for infants and toddlers are marketed as "educational," there are not supported by evidence.

Children learn to think creatively, solve problems and develop reasoning and motor skills at early ages through unstructured, unplugged play. Free play also teaches them how to entertain themselves.

Parents watching their own TV programmes distracts the parent and decreases parent-child interaction. Its presence may also interfere with a young child's learning from play and activities.

TV watching around bedtime can cause poor sleep habits and irregular sleep schedules, which can adversely affect mood, behaviour and learning.