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Background TV exposure may harm children's development

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(Read caption) Background TV threat: How much screen time is allowed in your home? Turning off versus turning down the television, according to a new study, may be more important than you thought. LG Electronic and Doug Wilson showcase interior design that blends style and technology on January 29, 2008 in Rahway, NJ, which integrates an LG LCD HDTV, home theater audio system and LCD monitors.

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We know, we know. You’ve heard all about the dangers of “screen time” for your children, and have seen all those statistics about how much television the average American toddler watches any given day.

(Hint: in 2006, the Kaiser Family Foundation found that children 6 months to 6 years watch television for an average of about an hour a day, although more recent studies have come up with much higher numbers.)

RELATED: Are you a 'Helicopter Parent?' take our QUIZ!

But have you thought about what happens when Junior isn’t watching, but the television is still on?

Recent studies have identified links between this sort of background television exposure and everything from lower sustained attention during playtime, lower quality parent-child interactions and reduced performance on cognitive tasks, write researchers in an article published today online in the journal “Pediatrics.”

And as it turns out, these researchers found, there’s a lot of background television in the homes of young children.

“The amount of exposure for the average child is startling,” writes authors Matthew Lapierre, Jessica Taylor Piotrowski ,and Deborah Linebarger.

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