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Television watching and child development

You are tired, the baby is unsettled and there is housework to be done. Television is seeming like a good option for entertaining the baby while you catch up on those household duties. But what are the consequences of putting the children in front of the TV, or even having it on in the background? According to a new study the answer is not good.

The study published in the Archive of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine shows that TV viewing, regardless of what is on, can reduce the likelihood of babies learning language, talking and socialising. The study involved children from 2 months to 4 years old. The researchers found that TV not only influenced the behaviour of the child but also their parents too: adults were less likely to talk to their children when the TV was on.

Using recorders attached to the children for a 24 month period, the study revealed that for every hour of TV the children watched parents said 770 fewer words to their child. Language exchanges dropped by 15%.

This research highlights another good reason to turn off the TV when children are around, especially for the first few years of life. The authors say nothing beats the two way interaction of parent and child.  For related material see the values section of the web. To access the article click here

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