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Experts warn of harm to kids from secondhand TV viewing

You’ve heard of the hazards of secondhand smoke. Now here’s another worry: secondhand TV.

A growing number of researchers are warning about the dangers of watching TV when very young children are nearby. Recent findings suggest that even casual exposure to TV can harm their development and undermine parent-child interactions.

The most recent warning came last week when theAmerican Academy of Pediatrics for the first time included warnings about “secondhand television” in its guidelines for kids under age 2.

In addition to discouraging screen time for young kids, it warned against watching TV with them nearby, saying the practice hurts their language development. It pointed to several studies, including one from 2008 that found background TV reduced the length of time they played and caused their focus on play to stray. Recent surveys find that about one of three families leave the TV on most of the time.

The warning said TV keeps young kids and their parents from interacting — a key way children develop the working vocabulary they’ll need in school.

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