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The Effects of Watching Television for Young Children Are Detrimental to Language Development

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Nowadays, television has been played a major role in most family households. Although television was invented over half a century ago, it has now become a part of most children’s everyday lives. Children have begun to turn to television for their main source of entertainment .Television has its own good sides but research shows that the disadvantages of television watching for children outweigh the advantages. This is because it will affect children’s health, children’s educational development, children’s cognitive skill and also children’s behaviour

There are many negative health impacts of television watching for children.

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Children understand fewer words when they watch TV. Researchers said that for every hour spent on watching baby DVDs, infants from 8 to 16 months understand 6 to 8 fewer words than those who don’t watch. Reading or telling stories to infants at least once a day was found to increase their vocabularies by only two or three words, indicating that the negative impact of the DVDs may outweigh the benefits of parental involvement. Moreover, general television offers a lot of commercial cartons, dramas, news and sports which have poor educational quality for young children. Study shows that children viewing such programs have tendency to have lower vocabulary and poorer expressive language. Poor language development is correlated to either the amount of time spent on TV or the quality of program’s content. According to Jean Berko Gleason, most young children experience language while interacting with an adult such as their mother and other caregivers. When the TV is on, both parent and child interact less to each other, especially when parents use TV as a temporally babysitter. Study shows that out of 941 words that adults usually speak every hour, parents speak 770 fewer words to children while watching TV

When interactions occurred, they were much more likely to be of a passive nature on the part of the parent. For example, the parents verbally respond to the child’s questions without actually looking at the child.

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Educational and infant-directed videos wereexamined looking at pre-linguistic skills and factorsaffecting language development. Similar results to thosefound in the presence of background television wererevealed. Specifically, in the presence of infant-directed television, play episodes were shorter with decreasedfocused attention (Courage et. al., 2010). When examining imitation, it was found that childrenwere able to imitate models from a screen. However, it wasalso found that they were better able to imitate from alive model. By definition, jointattention and coviewing are very similar, but it should benoted that it was reported that very few parents actuallyutilized coviewing when watching television with theirchildren (Moore & Dunham, 1995; Pempek et. al., 2011;Courage et. al., 2010).In terms of vocabulary acquisition, there was a lackof consensus between researchers on the benefits thatchildren can derive from television (Allen & Scofield,2010)

Furthermore, interactive-based and narrative-basedtelevision were examined with viewing positively correlatedto increased expressive language and vocabulary skills aswell as increased emergent literacy skills (Linebarger &Walker, 2004).

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In any event, early childhood development is important for successful language acquisition. Linguistic development of young children proceeds continuously from birth and 5 years after birth is well-known as so-called sensitive period which is critical for language acquisition

Especially, infants from 18 to 24 months old experience “word-learning explosion” in which words increase exponentially and, during this period, sentences combining more than two words appear. Therefore, understanding the relationship between TV watching and the language development of 2-year-old toddlers is an important subject in language development studies, and massive epidemiological studies that can represent the general population are required.

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Robb, M. B., Richert, R. A., & Wartella (2009) Just atalking book? Word learning from watching baby videos.British Journal of Developmental Psychology, 27, 27-45.

Setliff, A. E. & Courage, M. L. (2011). Backgroundtelevision and infants’ allocation of their attentionduring toy play. Infancy, 16, 611-639

Schmidt, M. E., Pempek, T. A., Kirkorian, H.L., Lund, A.F.,& Anderson, D.R. (2008). The effects of backgroundtelevision on the toy play behavior of very youngchildren. Child Development, 79, 1137-1151.

Tomasello, M. & Farrar, M. J. (1986). Joint attention andearly language. Child Development, 57, 1454-1463.

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