Now that I’m back, I’m planning on starting off with some brief bits concerning language and learning that I probably would have posted on over the past month or two, had I been here all along.
First this: New findings from researchers at the University of Washington strengthen a suspected link between early childhood TV exposure and delayed language development. The study looked at 329 children and found that an increase in TV time correlated negatively with both attempts to speak from the children, and words used by their caregivers. This one has been reported in various places, such as USA Today, this link at LiveScience and in this link from ABC News.
Interestingly, a study published in the March issue of Pediatrics seemed to arrive at an opposite conclusion, while criticizing the widespread nature of the American Academy of Pediatric’s (AAP) often repeated recommendation that children should not watch any TV before age two. Their conclusion was that duration of TV watching has no cognitive effects on children under two. This study, from researchers at the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston, surveyed 872 mothers on their childrens’ viewing habits. After controlling for maternal age, income, education, language vocabulary scores, marital status, child’s age, gender, birth weight for gestational age, breastfeeding duration, race or ethnicity, primary language, and average sleeping duration, the researchers found no correlation (negative or positive) between TV watching and scores on tests of cognition and language. More on this less reported study can be found here.
So, what to make of these seemingly contradictory studies? Actually, both studies do add support to the advice many pediatricians have already been giving parents. Because it may be unreasonable to expect that parents will completely turn off the TV for two years, the content and type of TV viewing is essential. It may be more practical to advise parents to watch educational shows, and more importantly, watch these shows together, and talk about what it is that they are seeing.
Well, that post went longer than expected, so my brief accounts of other recent language and learning interest will have to come next.