Children’s Language Use Decreased By Television

Language Use Decreases in Young Children and Caregivers When Television is On, Study Finds

Exposure to audible television has implications for language acquisition and brain development

In a new study, young children and their adult caregivers uttered fewer vocalizations, used fewer words and engaged in fewer conversations when in the presence of audible television.

The population-based study is the first of its kind completed in the home environment, guided by lead researcher Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, MPH, 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. “Audible Television and Decreased Adult Words, Infant Vocalizations, and Conversational Turns” was published in the June 2009 issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

“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 Christakis. “This study is the first to demonstrate that when the television is on, there is reduced speech in the home. Infants vocalize less and their caregivers also speak to them more infrequently.”

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