Some child care providers on Long Island were alarmed to learn of a new study finding that children in home-based day care settings are watching twice as much television as previously thought.
"That is outrageous," said Kathleen Roche, executive director of Rainbow Chimes Early Education centers in Huntington. "Television shouldn't be used at all."
Television viewing is appropriate in the rare instances when children are shown educational programs, Roche and others in the industry said.
The study, published online in advance of publication in the December issue of Pediatrics, was based on interviews with 168 directors of licensed child-care programs in four states. New York was not one of them. At home-based day cares, preschoolers watched on average 2.4 hours of TV per day compared to 0.4 hours at center-based settings; toddlers saw 1.6 hours compared with 0.1 hours in centers. The study found that infants at home-based day cares watched 0.2 hours of TV compared to none at center-based day cares.
"The thing that disturbs me the most is how many babies are watching TV," said Roche.
According to Eddie Borges, a spokesman for the state's Office of Children and Family Services, more than 1,000 home-based day care providers are registered with the state. Borges said it's difficult to know if children in those programs are watching TV and, if so, how much.
"Unless it's on their written programs, we wouldn't know," said Borges. She said no similar survey has been conducted in New York, and the state is discussing whether to regulate TV viewing at day care centers.
Dianne Galante of the Child Care Council of Suffolk, which trains home-based day care providers, said she discourages clients from plopping children in front of a TV or a computer. "Sometimes providers will share that it is being used during the day," Galante said.
Dawn Daniello, early childhood manager with Child Care Council of Nassau, said when providers she works with include educational TV programs in their curriculum, she suggests the instructor and children get up and take part.
"I advised them not to just watch, but get up and sing and dance," said Daniello.
Previous studies relying on parent reports about children's TV viewing habits at home estimated preschoolers watch one to three hours of TV a day.