Get access

Background Television and Infants’ Allocation of Their Attention During Toy Play


should be sent to Mary L. Courage, Department of Psychology, Memorial University, St. John’s, NF, Canada A1B 3X9. E-mail:


The effect of background television on 6- and 12-month-olds’ attention during 20 min of toy play was examined. During the first or second half of the session, a clip from a variety of commonly available television programs was presented. The duration and frequency of infants’ looks to the toys and to the television indicated that regardless of age or program content, background television frequently got, but did not hold the infants’ attention. An order effect indicated that infants looked longer at the television when it was available in the second half of the session. Examination of infants’ focused attention to the toys showed a reduction in the mean length of focused episodes when the television was on. A follow-up of the infants at 24 months indicated greater resistance to distraction by the television during play. Data from the three ages showed that individual differences in the amount of viewing were moderately stable across age and across home and lab contexts.

Get access to the full text of this article