A new study shows that for every hour a child spends in front of the television, parents speak 770 fewer words. That’s both when the parents are watching the show with the child and when they’ve just plopped the kid in front of the set to take a shower. Also, when the TV is just on in the background.
So why shouldn’t we panic?
Earlier studies show that babies who watch a lot of TV catch up to their more sanctimonious peers by 16 months.
Results of this study appear in the June issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Researchers looked at 329 children, ages 2 months to 4 years, whom they rigged up with digital recorders one day per month for an average of six months. The number of words heard and spoken were counted. Analysts compared the number of words exchanged while the TV was one against the number while the TV was off. On average, adults speak more than 900 words per hour when the TV is off.
Good information and probably not all that surprising, considering most people’s experiences when, let’s say at a party, the TV goes on. All eyes turn to the plasma screen.
One of the lead researchers, Dimitri Christakis of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, said while this doesn’t exactly show that TV is harmful, it also shows it’s not helpful, which is one reason the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against TV for kids younger than 2.
Commenting on the study, Victor Strasburger, a professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico, leaves us with this guilt-inducing advice:
“We need to avoid parking babies in front of screens,” Strasburger
says. “Parents need to realize they need to be the primary
entertainment for their babies. Parents are movie stars when their kids
are babies. It doesn’t last long.”
Sure. But sometimes, super star Mom or Dad needs to take five in the Green Room, you know?