In recent years, studies in the fields of Child Development, Communication Sciences and Disorders, and Education have shown that a child’s exposure to TV is linked with slower language learning because it tends to take the place of conversation time between adults and children. It has long been believed that TV exposure in infants was associated with language delays and attention problems, but it wasn’t until a University of Washington School of Medicine study in 2009 that the “Why?” was answered. This study demonstrated that when the TV is on, there is reduced overall speaking in a home. Subsequent studies supported the findings. Research in Communication Sciences and Disorders has long shown that the more words spoken in a family, the better a child develops language. There has been no research showing that words spoken from a TV to a passively-watching child contribute to language development; in fact, the opposite is true.
This is not to say that all TV is bad. Carefully chosen programming has been shown to help preschoolers in story-telling development. Some of these programs are: Super Why, Blue’s Clues, and Dora the Explorer. Parents can encourage this learning by watching programs with their child and encouraging interactions by talking to the TV and the child. If you are interested, your therapist can provide you with easy-to-use ideas for helping your child get the most from watching TV.
Talk to your child. Talk, talk, talk. TV from time to time is ok. For busy parents, TV time can offer a much-needed break. Just remember your child will learn language from YOU, not the TV.