Babies, television and videos: How did we get here?

Ellen Wartella*, Rebekah A. Richert, Michael B. Robb

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Baby media have exploded in the past decade, and children younger than 2 are showing increased use of these baby media. This paper examines the historical evidence of babies' use of television since the 1950s as well as the various factors that have given rise to the current increase in screen media for babies. We also consider the ubiquitous role of television in American families, the impact of evidence regarding the educational benefits of educational television on preschoolers, and positive parental beliefs about the usefulness of such educational media in preparing young children for schooling. Finally, we examine the theoretical issues of importance for guiding research into the interactions between media exposure and cognitive development, including the role of media in changing the context of children's development and constraints on the kinds of things babies can learn from screen media. Lastly, we suggest that screen media may indeed be changing the nature of children's development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-127
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Babies
  • Infants
  • Media effects
  • Television
  • Videos

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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