Watching TV with a young child can boost their development – ​​study

Watching TV with a young child can benefit their cognitive development, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth say that while exposing young children to too much television can harm play, language development and executive functioning, watching age-appropriate content can also have its benefits.

These benefits may include reinforcing their learning and improving their conversation skills through co-viewing with an adult.

Dr Eszter Somogyi from the university’s psychology department said: “We are used to hearing that exposure to screens is bad for a child and can seriously harm their development if not limited, say, less than an hour a day. Although it can be harmful, our study suggests that the focus should be on the quality or context of what a child is watching, not the quantity.

“Weak narration, rapid editing, and complex stimuli can make it difficult for a child to extract or generalize information.

Watching TV with your child and elaborating on and commenting on what is watched can help improve their understanding of the contentDr. Eszter Somogyi

“But when screen content is age-appropriate for a child, it’s likely to have a positive effect, especially when designed to encourage interaction.”

The research, published in Frontiers In Psychology, reviewed 478 studies published over the past two decades and concluded that context was crucial to the beneficial use of screens.

Dr. Somogyi explained: “Families differ greatly in their attitudes towards and use of the media.

“These differences in viewing context play an important role in determining the strength and nature of television’s impact on children’s cognitive development.

“Watching TV with your child, elaborating on and commenting on what is being watched can help improve their understanding of the content, thus reinforcing their learning during educational programmes.

“Co-viewing can also help develop their conversation skills and provides children with an appropriate role model in front of the television.”

The authors of the research point out that over the past 30 years the number of television programs targeting infants has increased, with screen time for children aged 0-2 years doubling between 1997 and 2014.

The authors recommend reinforcing contexts that support learning, such as viewing age-appropriate content, viewing under adult supervision, and not having a second device or screen. television in the background.

Dr Bahia Guellai, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Paris Nanterre, who was also involved in the research, said: “The important ‘take home message’ here is that carers need to keep new technologies in mind.

“Television or smartphones should be used as potential tools to complement certain social interactions with their young children, but not to replace (them).

“I believe that the most important challenge of our societies for future generations is to raise awareness among adults and young people of the risk of reckless or inappropriate use of screens.

“This will help prevent situations in which screens are used as a new type of childcare, as has been the case during pandemic shutdowns in different countries.

“I am optimistic about the concept of finding a balance between the rapid diffusion of new technological tools and the preservation of the beautiful nature of human relationships.”

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