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The French Ban TV for Children Under Three

baby watching tvShowing infinite wisdom beyond Americans, the French have banned French television programs designed for children under three-years-old. Unfortunately, young French children are still exposed to TV programs broadcast from foreign channels on cable, such BabyFirstTV, but now those channels must warn parents of the negative developmental effects of television watching.  Such programing now issues the following warning to French parents,

“Watching television can slow the development of children under 3, even when it involves channels aimed specifically at them.

The warning is based on a ruling by the High Audiovisual Council which states:

Television viewing hurts the development of children under 3 years old and poses a certain number of risks, encouraging passivity, slow language acquisition, over-excitedness, troubles with sleep and concentration as well as dependence on screens.

Personally, my children never showed an interest in TV until they were three-years-old, and even so, they would much rather play than sit idly by in front of the tube.  I love it now that my seven-year-old calls TV “boring” and would much rather read a book.  I’ve always believed that given the right environment, children know what is best for their own development.  The world should take notice of France’s ban on television aimed at our youngest children consumers.

Via: Associated Press and Z Recs

Image:  iandeth on Flickr under a Creative Commons License

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  1. Yeah, us stupid Americans with our freedom of choice. If only we lived in a paranoid nanny state…

  2. The average child watches 28 hours of TV per week and sees 20,000 commercials a year.
    Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900 hours
    Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1500
    (source: http://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html)

    Do we want average children or exceptional children?

    I choose exceptional. We ditched the TV years ago, and have no regrets.

  3. Very interesting post! Our young children don’t watch 28 hours of TV per week, but they do watch some movies over and over again and I doubt that is good for their brains. (Though I have to admit that the break is good for mine, and I’ve gotten over feeling guilty about it.) I would love to go back to a life without a TV or at least get it out of the main sitting room, but my sports loving spouse has said that for that to happen I would have to give up all of my books.

  4. Funny how people will rally against something that’s universally considered to be “evil” without considering who can be benefited. I used to care for a boy who, after losing his hearing to a virus as a newborn, relied on a cochlear implant to hear. Because his language skills were retarded as a result, his parents found that watching limited amounts of television actually accelerated his speech and gave him a greater understanding of how verbal communication works in our society. I don’t see how allowing children to watch a few hours of television a week is corrupting them, and I’m getting tired of the holier-than-thou approach to parenting that I find every time I turn around.

  5. Rodrigo Diaz says:

    WOW! Thanks government for telling me what my kids can and can’t watch. They should get rid of HBO and Cinemax next.

    If you as a parent don’t like TV, dont fucking watch it.

  6. Agree with Evann here – just because something may be associated with some particular ‘bad’ behaviour, such as a subjective concept of ‘bad parenting’, it does not mean that thing is inherently bad, and must be banned.

    This seems too much like a cheap political trick to give the impression of ‘action’, of ‘doing something’, with very little cost.

  7. Nanny state boy, I suppose that you make some sort of distinction then with your governments banning of certain molecules which you are not allowed to consume i.e. THC and another governments decision on what constitutes harm in a child ( interestingly it seems there is more research support for one being harmful than the other)
    No need to mention any of the other many many consensual crimes that exist in the usa. You have to agree, if your state does any nannying, then it is a nanny state.

    More to the point, unless any of you have actually done the research on the plasticity of a >3 year old brain and televisions effect on it, then I fail to see how you can possibly make any intelligent comment in regards to its accuracy. The very ubiquity and seemingly benign nature of t.v. is what makes it so insidious. Programming directed towards a certain ago cohort has the implicit understanding that it is ” ok ” and perhaps beneficial for that cohort to view it. The population must trust the government to insure that implicit statements of service providers (entertainment et al) are accurate. If it has been determined that X causes Y harm to Z. Then the correct action is to remove the exposure of X to Z to the best of your ability, while simultaneously warning people as to the Y danger to Z from X

  8. Children watch something over and over because each time they watch something, they notice something new. It’s a new experience, even the 50th time they watch it. TV is not necessarily negative. Like almost everything else, in moderation it’s fine. Sheesh…

    How can exposure to language and other stimuli be inherently bad? If it’s developmentally appropriate, then where’s the problem?

  9. Wait, so taking away personal freedom is a good thing? Way to go France. America is starting to do the same thing, and I hate it. Patriot Act anyone? Shit, next cigarettes and beer will be illegal because they are bad for you. Then fast food. Then kids will only be able to read the bible and other books specified by the government. Gotta love authoritarianism. Its called parenting dammit. If you dont want your kid watching tv, turn it off.

    • jp_isshin says:

      France’s law on children’s TV has nothing to do with personal freedoms. Here in America, parents can let their children watch whatever is broadcasted on TV. They can also slip a DVD in the player and let them watch that (even an R rated one). It’s the same way in France. The only thing losing freedom in France is the TV networks. The networks there can no longer show certain childrens TV. People like Chase should not jump on the “personal freedom” argument unless they want XXX porn shown on all our American networks in the middle of the day for all ages to see. Trust me, If they could, they would. Plenty of people would watch. But, is this what America, France, or any other country really wants?

  10. Agree with Chase, taking personal freedom away is not too cool. Personally, my kids watch t.v. and so do I. Guess what, it is called moderation.

  11. I think the focusing on children is to make the parent responsible. You know, actually have them PARENT…

  12. French “Showing infinite wisdom” give me a break! We have too many people trying to tell others how to raise their children. People wanting the Government to do their parenting for them seems to be getting to be the norm…..Sad Take the time to be with your children and teach them what you want them to know and understand about the world. I guess we have to put the blame on something to make ourselves feel better about not spending time with our children, let’s blame TV. Everyone has their own opinion about raising children. Mine is spend time with your children whether it is watching TV, going to the lake, playing in the yard or evening reading them a book. Someone is going to spend time with them why not someone with the values you trust….”You”.

    Oh I do have children and grandchildren also, my children are very intelligent and so are the grandchildren. I had to brag a little, proud dad and grandfather that I am. Yes we watched TV and movies plus played together, some of me rubbed off on them and some did not. The intelligence came from within them and the thirst to expand it came from me and their mother, I hope it did anyway.
    I did not mean to write this much and is way to long. Children are the future, I hope we (the past generations) have not laid to shotty a foundation that they can not build on it.

    As you can tell I did not agree with the author of this article. Everyone has an opinion and now you have read mine and the authors, I look forward to reading yours.
    Nuff’ Said

  13. Total state control equals tyranny, total individual freedom equals marauding chaos. But we are supposed to gain our freedoms after the age of majority. I d go so far as to ban advertising to anyone under the age of majority, but this is a decent step in the right direction. i think I ll move to Europe soon.

  14. In any other country in the world, people would look at a study like this and make a choice for their child based on new information and knowledge that is now out there in the world. In the U.S., so many people see it as an Attack on American Personal Freedoms. Why? Can you simply not accept that T.V. might NOT be good for the average tiny developing brain without allying such a study with Nazi Germany or Communist China? Of COURSE there are exceptions, such as the child with the hearing impairment mentioned above. But using the television as a babysitter for your kid and buying that B.S. that it’s all “developmentally appropriate” is a joke. Just try to pay enough attention to your kid so that he or she doesn’t choke on her Freedom Fries while watching Cinderella for the 200th time.

  15. Well, my daughter is 3 years old and watches Noggin all the time. She was able to count to 20, 10 in spanish, and also do almost all her ABC’s before she was even two and a half. I don’t think it has a negative reaction on kids. It is all in the eye of the beholder. I have an 8 month old that is starting to form words quicker than my friends 1 year old that didn’t watch tv. So no, I think that it doesn’t have an affect on kids. My daughters are happy healthy children. well adjusted, and better manners than most kids her age.

  16. For Americans, you must remember that France is much more of a socialist country than America and thus, the government has more control over such things. I happen to think that parents need to be informed of the repercussions and along with that, television stations should be more responsible for what they put on the air — yes, violence and stupid behavior can be choices but being exposed to them on tv all the time certainly doesn’t help. A little more effort from everyone would help. I have noticed that the younger generation is much more violent than mine (and I’m only in my early twenties). I think exposure had a lot to do with that — whether tv or video games or family life…or just life. If television stations aren’t going to make less mind-numbing and violent programs, then I think bravo to France for banning it. I was glad I didn’t have television in my house until I was 12 or 13 — I think it made a huge difference in my development as compared to my friends. Though I must say, I think a better solution globally would be to air more benign, educational, and informative programs that show more of a responsibility for the effect that they have on viewers (of any age).

  17. Everybody here gets so upset about banning tv shows for little children but what about lead in toys or BPA? That should be the parent´s choice then too, right? I want to have the choice if I want to expose my child to lead or other toxic stuff, right? If studies show that tv is bad for the brain development in those important first 3 years then I don´t see why parents would get so mad about a law that is just trying to protect their children. Or is it indeed mere about taking away this so inexpensive babysitter?

  18. I found this article while searching for research on television viewing and characteristics of autism, ADD, ADHD, agression, and behavior problems in children birth through five years of age. In the early childhood special education field in our state in the U.S. three year old children with these characteristics are becoming more and more prevalent. I am convinced now that television viewing in the first 3 years, especially animated shows like Thomas the Train, Blues Clues, Scooby Doo, etc., for hours a day are having a negative effect on some children. True not all, but will yours be the one? Television is not a natural part of development and time spent doing the unnatural takes away precious time of face- to-face nurturing, talking, listening, and including a child in the routine of family life. No one is telling you how to raise your child. If they were they would tell you that from the day you bring your baby home you must spend time talking to them. We would surely be upset if the government said you must show your child a television show everyday and it has to be this show or that show. Television shows aimed at young children have changed seemingly over the last decade in particular. Ask your daycare caregivers, public school teachers, and early childhood special education teachers what they experience with children. Please step back and look at what you are so adamantly fighting for.

  19. Yes,I agree that our chilren should not be exposed to the Tv too often.It’s no good to them


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