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TV Viewing Causes Lag in Infant Language Development

Posted Jun 03 2009 11:43am

TV hurts children\'s language development More bad news for television:  “Television exposure during infancy is associated with language delays and attentional problems,” according to Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

Of particular concern are homes in which the television is on all the time, which amounts to 30% of all households! In these situations, less interaction, critical for infant language development, occur because of the interference of the television.

Christakis and his colleagues studied 329 two-month to four-year-old children and their parents. Children were monitored for two years recording what they heard or said for 12 to 16 hours.  Researchers did not calculate whether the children and their parents were actively watching TV or if it was just on in the background during the research.  The results, according to Live Science:

Analyses of the recordings revealed that each hour of additional television exposure was linked with a decrease of 770 words (7 percent) the child heard from an adult during the recording session. Hours of television were also associated with a decrease in the number and length of child vocalizations and the back and forth between the child and an adult (called a conversational turn).

Child development experts say interaction with real people is key for language development (and social/emotional development too!).  The French have banned TV for children under three-years-old, and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television watching before the age of two.  TV addicted kids are more likely to have poor diets as adults, and some don’t even know their own names!  It’s crucial families turn off the tube and interact for the sake of their baby’s development.

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