Children who spend just 15 minutes or more a day watching television may become less creative as compared to those who read books or solve jigsaw puzzles, a new study has warned.
Watching TV for short periods does not impact on the number of creative ideas that young children come up, researchers said.
However the research, conducted with 60 children of three years of age at Staffordshire University in the UK, has found that 15 minutes of children's television temporarily reduces the originality of the ideas they come up with.
"We were looking at the immediate impact of television on children's creativity," said psychology lecturer Dr Sarah Rose, who conducted the study.
"We compared children who watched slow and fast paced episodes of Postman Pat with children who were left to play with books and jigsaws. We then tested the children for the numbers of creative ideas and the originality of those ideas," Rose said.
"While there was very little impact of TV on the number of creative ideas generated, there was clear evidence that the children came up with less original ideas immediately after watching television although these effects seemed to disappear after a short time.
"Over time if children are less creative in their play, this could negatively impact their development," Rose said.
The new research is potentially useful to producers of children's television, early years' educators and parents as little study has been carried out on the development effects of television on young children, researchers said.
"There is a belief that the more slow-paced programmes are more educational but our findings do not support this," Rose added.