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Even Background Television May Delay Speech in Toddlers - June 5, 2009

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Editor's Comment: While our readers may roll their eyes and suggest that these results hail from the "American Journal of the Obvious", it is none-the-less important that studies on the effects of TV viewing on infant and toddler speech development are being conducted, and are reaching the mainstream media.

This week, the major news outlets were all abuzz about a recent report in the Journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, which confirms that the more time an infant or toddler spends listening to the television, the less likely he is to hear a parent's voice or speak himself.

The study was conducted by researcher Dimitri Christakis, Director of the 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. In the study, they selected 329 2-month to 4-year old children and their parents. The children wore digital devices on random days each month for up to two years, that recorded everything they heard or said for 12 to 16 hours.

The results appear to confirm what other studies have previously suggested, that when babies get caught up in television, their parents are equally likely to get caught up in their own activities limiting verbal exchanges with their kids.

The study found that for every hour the television was on, babies heard 770 fewer words from an adult. Conversational exchanges between baby and parent dropped 15%, as did the overall number of vocalizations made by children.

Learn more about this study:

Tags: News of the Week Language Newsletter June 2009