Past studies have shown that infants exposed to television tend to have delayed vocalization and attention problems (not to mention health problems like obesity). Now, a new study finds that the it’s not only the child‘s experience with the television that affects him, but the amount of TV watched by adults around him, as well.
Researchers fitted children with business-card sized sound recorders that captured everything they said and heard during continuous 12-16 hour periods. Special software was used to analyze the sounds children were exposed to, as well as the sounds they made.
According to ParentDish, “The researchers found that for each hour of audible television, there was a significant drop in the amount and duration of child vocalizations as well as a drop in conversational interactions with an adult… every hour of television exposure was associated with a decrease of 770 words the child heard from an adult… the adults were speaking 500 to 1,000 fewer words per hour of audible television.”
In other words, this study found that when the TV is on, adults barely speak to the babies or children who are around them!
This reduced verbal interaction may be responsible for language delays, as well as attentional and cognitive delays. Language development is a critical component of overall brain development during early childhood.
What is important to realize is that just having the television on in the home reduces the number of words your child hears and speaks. It doesn’t matter if he is actively watching television or is merely in the vicinity of an audible television. This is especially troubling when you consider that fact that 30 percent of American households report having the television always on, even when no one is watching!
SO TURN OFF THE TV! The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Public Education’s recommendation that children under the age of two should not be exposed to television at all, and that older children should be limited to no more than two hours per day.