Skip to main content

TV Deteriorates Kids Ability to Talk

SEATTLE: Kids and those who take care of them talk less the more they listen to TV, according to a study from the University of Washington School of Medicine.For every hour parents and kids spent in front of a TV set, the older folks spoke 770 fewer words to the children, who were thought to experience slower language development as a result.

“Adults typically utter approximately 941 words per hour,” the study’s lead researcher, Dimitri Christakis, told Science Daily. “Our study found that adult words are almost completely eliminated when television is audible to the child. These results may explain the association between infant television exposure and delayed language development,” a critical component of brain development in early childhood.

The study comprised 329 children aged two months to four years old. Each wore a small digital recorder for 12 to 16 hours on random days monthly over the course of two years.

“We’ve known that television exposure during infancy is associated with language delays and attentional problems, but so far it has remained unclear why,” Christakis said. “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.”

Researchers recommended no TV for youngsters two and younger, and limiting TV to no more than two hours a day for those older than two years. -- Deborah D. McAdams