The effects of background television on very young children's play with toys
The present study investigated the effects of background television, or television designed for adults, on very young children's play with toys. One-, 2-, and 3-year-old children were individually observed playing with an array of toys in the lab for one hour. For each child, during half of the one-hour session, a TV set played the television program Jeopardy! ; during the other half of the session, the TV set was off. For the first half hour, the average duration of play episodes was reduced at all ages in the presence of background television. Given that overall levels of looking at the television were low (about 3.2% of their time in the first half hour), this effect is probably due to a generalized interference from television (perhaps tied to its auditory features) rather than looking at the set. One-year-olds specifically had less focused attention in the presence of background television. These results were not obtained for the second half hour. Only three-year-old boys had shorter play episodes in the presence of background television. The data suggests that background television may have a disruptive effect on very young children's play with toys, especially when the toys and the room are novel to the children.