Under 3s can’t Learn Verbs from TV

There’s a new study out demonstrating that children under three can’t learn new action words by watching television programs unless there is an adult around to “interact with them and support their learning.”

You can read the whole story here.

To be honest, this doesn’t really surprise me.  Children under three are still learning to understand the real world.  To expect a young child to learn from a fake world seems downright unrealistic.  But, the real shocker for me was the sentence at the beginning of the article, “American infants and toddlers watch TV an average of two hours a day.”  I don’t know where this statistic comes from but given what I know from anecdotes I’m sure it’s true.  And I find it very alarming.  Two hours a day of sitting in front of the television is too much for anyone, let alone a young child.  I have a three year old so I know how hard it can feel to fill up the time, or keep them occupied while I’m making dinner but two hours is way too much.  These kids should be running around, coloring, playing pretend, and inventing life.  It’s taken time, patience, and diligence, but I can proudly say that my daughter knows how to occupy herself throughout the day using her imagination and little help from me.  If she really can’t find anything to do while I make dinner, then she’s more than welcome to help me (and she often does).

“Well,” you probably are thinking, “She’s three!  What about as an infant?”  My daughter didn’t watch TV until she was over two.  She had no interest anyways.  When I needed to get something done, or I really needed a break (we all do), I found her something to do near me, or I wore her.  When I cooked, she played on a blanket in the middle of the kitchen.  When I paid the bills, I sat next to her with my laptop and made silly face with her.  My mom (Sharon) likes to tell me about how she would put me in her backpack while she made dinner.  I got to watch everything simmering and rising right over her shoulder.

So, I’d like to put out a challenge to every parent.  A challenge that will seem insurmountable but it can be done.

Cut your child’s TV viewing down to two hours a week.

That’s one movie, or several 20 minute shows.

I’m going to take this challenge too.

What will this do for your child?

  • Your child will learn to use creativity and ingenuity to make up games and puzzles.
  • More time playing means more time working on life skills like communication, problem-solving and relationship building.
  • Your child will run around more, setting him or her up for a lifetime of healthy athletic activity (it’s not just the fries that are making our kids overweight).
  • Your child will learn independence.
  • And, if you invite your child in to the kitchen while you cook, the yard while you rake, or the office while you pay bills, your child will learn essential life skills that she or he will never learn from the tv.

Let us know how you do 🙂

This entry was posted in Why Theatre and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *