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Baby Development TV Can Impair Speech Development in Young Children

Posted Jun 16 2009 5:37pm
By Colleen Hurley, RD, Certified Kids Nutrition Specialist Several months ago, reports surfaced stating that even the background noise of the TV being on, even if in another room, disrupted a young childs ability to concentrate. Very little was discussed in previous studies as to how TV affects parent child interaction, until now. A new study found this communication is so diminished it can lead to speech impairments in children. Published in this months issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, the study found that when the TV is on, parents and children literally stop speaking to each other even if sitting in the same room. Specifically, parents spoke 770 less words per hour while in front of the TV, while the average adults speaks about 941 words an hour. It wasnt just the parents who fell silent, as children vocalized much less as well. This may explain results found in previous studies that babies who watch a lot of TV know fewer words. The study fitted 329 children aged two months to four years with business card sized digital devices for about 6 months. These devices included a speech recognition program that could differentiate human voices from TV content and counted the number of words spoken when the TV was on. The study shows that even though a parent and child feel as though they might be interacting with the TV on, quite the opposite is true. In certain cases, note researchers, parents simply zoned on while watching TV and others left the room while their child was perched in front of the television. This is the seventh study to suggest TV can impair a childs language development, yet clear results are yet to be found. In fact, some recent studies have found that TV neither helped nor harmed language acquisition. One thing is known, as the study authors point out, that TV watching is not helpful to a child as some popular baby videos might suggest. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV watching for babies under two years of age while older children should be limited to less than two hours per day.
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