Does background noise, be it TV or radio, make a difference to your child’s learning? An article in the Journal of Children and Media looked at how background TV changed parents’ abilities to play with their kids. The study observed parents and kids aged 12 months, 2 years or 3 years of age, playing together for an hour. Half of the time, the TV was on with programing for much older people. The other half of the playtime, the TV was off.
Of course, the parents didn’t think they were affected by the TV programming, but they actually were! The number of words the parents used, and the variety of words, as well as phrases, was much less when the TV was on! So, even though the parents didn’t think they were listening to the TV, at least part of the brain was affected, enough so, that the parent wasn’t giving as much quality time to the child! The child was being partially ignored.
But how about other media use by caregivers? Next time you go out to a public place, count the number of caregivers who are really listening and talking with their kids, giving close to undivided attention, as compared to those glued to the cell phone or other media.
Take home message: Know WHO is important; Your kids! And they need a lot of your attention! So, why is it good to pay attention to your kids? Well, your kids NEED your guidance and supervision to learn about everything. The more words and phrases and ideas they are exposed to, the more abilities they develop for thinking and living successful lives. These words and phrases seem to be learned better with caregivers who are focused on the child, as compared to listening to computer games or TV. So play with that kid every day, without the TV on; undivided attention is better for that kid…and more fun for you! Give that kid a hug.