Most five-year olds can watch up to three hours of television a day without harming their language skills, but watching more than three hours of television a day could affect some older children, according to a new international study.
The study, by researchers from La Trobe University and Griffith University in Australia, England’s Newcastle University and Scotland’s Queen Margaret University, found that children who watch less than three hours of TV a day when they start primary school are more likely to communicate their ideas effectively when they move on to secondary school.
Dr Elizabeth Westrupp from La Trobe’s Judith Lumley Centre was one of the researchers involved in the Australian-funded study that found, that while watching less TV is generally better, it appears to make little difference to the children with higher language scores at age 11. However, it is strongly associated with the performance of those who have poorer language skills later on.
Reading to young children was, on average, associated with better performance, but again it had much less of an effect on children with the best language scores at 11 years and, correspondingly, much more of an effect on those who were doing less well.
The study also found that poverty and the more siblings a child had were negatively associated with their language development.
Lead researcher James Law, Professor of Speech and Language Sciences, in Newcastle University’s School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences said:
“As researchers, we’re really interested in looking at things which parents can do which can make a positive impact on helping their child develop good language skills.
“The television effect was a very interesting finding and we saw it had a bigger impact for the children with lower language skills, but made little difference to those who had had higher levels of language.”
Read more about the study’s findings here. Story credit: La Trobe University newsroom.
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