Not that you needed another reason to turn off the TV, but researchers out of Harvard have concluded that there is, “… no evidence of cognitive benefit from watching TV during the first two years of life,” going so far as to call it “wasted time,” that could been better spent being engaged in more rewarding and fulfilling activities. Then again, that’s a lesson that adults could learn from, as well.

The findings ultimately contradict what many parents think or have been led to believe (or for that matter, want to believe) regarding the TV, including the various claims of enrichment that educational DVDs are quick to make. Furthermore, the findings support previous research, some of which goes so far as to say that watching TV did more harm than good.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children below the age of two watch no TV, and yet many of the educational DVDs out there target children as young as six months. In the article in question, doctors monitored children from birth to the age of three and found that, on average, at around the age of 6 months, children watched about an hour of TV each day, with that amount of “screen time” increasing with age. Though babies who watched more TV had lower language and visual motor skills by the age of three, that relationship disappeared after adjustments were made for education and household income.

In lieu of this, the researchers concluded that watching TV did neither harm nor good for growing babies, but also noted that there was, “… more evidence of harm than benefit as far as TV viewing in infancy is concerned.”

The point is, even though TV was not found to be detrimental to your baby’s learning, at least in this particular study, that doesn’t necessarily justify it’s excessive use, because a number of other potential health related problems have been tied to it, including obesity, ADHD, and sleep issues. The study’s lead author went so far as to say that she hoped this would not be construed as an endorsement for watching more TV.

And as much as some of us don’t want to confront this fact, TV is simply a poor replacement for the time that we could be spending with our children, engaging them in more fruitful activities like reading, discovering, and playing. And let us not forget about the constant messages regarding consumerism and pop-culture standards that TV imprints onto young minds.

Unfortunately, tube-time is just too easy, and not too many things out there grab your child’s attention like the flashing images on the screen. And once you start going down that path, it’s hard to convince your kids that there are better things in life.

So maybe it’s better to not go there in the first place, while your baby is still young and impressionable. Try to encourage other activities that won’t make them pine for the tube every time their bored or restless.

1. Go outside to play, or just take a walk. Kids, especially babies, don’t need much to entertain themselves as long as there are trees and grass, and maybe a swing or two,

2. Read books to them. You won’t find too many people who would argue with the fact that reading to your kids is good for them, and you, as well. Also, the bonding time that you get to share with them is irreplaceable.

3. Listen to music (and dance). Turn on some tunes and shake your booty. Kids love music, and the process of finding what they like to listen to is a fun an rewarding journey for any parent.

4. Do some arts and crafts. This includes painting, drawing, sculpting, and any sort of craft you can think of. Engaging their minds while working with their hands is a great activity for all children.

In the end, we all know a better alternative to TV, and the only thing limiting us is our imagination, because young babies are pretty easy to entertain and can be pretty amenable to whatever you want to do. The most important thing is to have fun with it, because as cliché as it has become, they won’t be this young forever, and the time you don’t spend with them is time that you can never have back.

Besides, after all is said and done, do you really want your kids identifying more with a marine sponge than with you?