Sunday, June 14, 2009

Turn the TV off

Most of us are not used to reading scientific literature. The title of the research is usually a few lines long, just a little daunting. Following the names of participating researchers there are abbreviations for their titles that we may not have been exposed to. We wonder why we should continue reading!

I read the synopsis of a recently published piece of research that is definitely relevant to parenting and child care environments. With the exception of a few twists in writing style and wording, the research and conclusions were easy to understand. I would like to share the research and the conclusions with you in today's column.

A group of researchers wanted to test the idea that when the sound of the television is on, there will be less talking between a parent and a young child. To do this, 329 preschool children wore digital recorders at times for a period of two years. Computer software analyzed the sounds the children heard and the sounds the children made.

It was found that each hour with the television on was associated with significant reductions in the speech of the child and there were significantly less verbal exchanges with the parent. The researchers conclude that the results may explain why children in homes where television is on a lot have delayed language development.

(Now, that was not so hard!) I would like to thank my friend, Elizabeth Beall, PhD, from Park City, Utah who sent an email with this research summary.

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