Did you know that 30 percent of US households have televisions on all the time? In a piece entitled TV Causes Learning Lag in Infants – Yahoo! News Jeanna Bryner writes:
Infants “zone out” in front of the television, and it turns out this translates into less time interacting with parents, and possible lags in language development, a new study finds. “We’ve known that television exposure during infancy is associated with language delays and attentional problems, but so far it has remained unclear why,” said lead researcher Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages television watching before the age of 2, a time when critical development, such as language acquisition, occurs.
(Christakis said a baby’s brain triples in size during the first two years of life, so there’s a lot going on in that little noggin.)
They recorded the time spent goggling.
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 vocalisations and the back and forth between the child and an adult (called a conversational turn) says Bryner.
Some of these reductions are probably due to children being left alone in front of the television screen, the researchers write in the June issue of the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. But “others may reflect situations in which adults, though present, are distracted by the screen and not interacting with their infant in a discernible manner.” And interaction is key for baby’s brain, apparently.
“The reason it’s concerning is because we know that hearing adults speak and being spoken to are critical exposures that play a role in infants development in language,” Christakis said. “My recommendation first is that children under the age of 2 be discouraged from watching television,” and Christakis added that even if the TV show is intended for the adults, the effect is the same for their children.
(Four of the authors on the paper were employed by the LENA Foundation, which paid for the data collection and develops technology for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of language delays and disorders in children and adults.)
Jeanna Bryner is Senior Writer for LifeScience.com