Study suggests few developmental effects of television on five-year-old children

May 15, 2017, Newcastle University
Study suggests few developmental effects of television on five-year-old children
Credit: Newcastle University

Researchers from Newcastle University and Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, found that children who watch less than three hours of TV a day when they start in primary school are more likely to communicate their ideas effectively when they move on to secondary school.

Using data from thousands of in the UK's Millenium Cohort Study, the research team showed that while less is generally better than more when it comes to watching TV, the impact varies, depending on the child's at 11 years.

While it appears to make little difference to the children who have higher language scores, by contrast more than three hours of TV a day is strongly associated with poorer language skills later on.

Helping children to develop good language skills

The researchers looked at the impact of parental involvement with children when they were aged three and five-years-old and then examined how well they were able to communicate their ideas at 11.

They asked parents how often they read to their children, told them stories, visited the library together, took them to the park or watched television together – for three hours a day or less

Reading to young children was, on average, associated with better performance but again it had much less of an effect for children with the best language scores at 11 years and correspondingly much more of an effect for those who were doing less well.

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 the 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 higher levels of language.

"Television isn't the enemy. My personal view is that it's how you watch it that's important. If you're actively watching a programme with your child and you're talking about what's happening, you're asking and answering questions, then I think that's fine and it will be a positive experience for both of you.

"It's when children are sat in front of it for hours with no input – in effect an electronic babysitter - that I think it becomes problematic."

Explore further: Study concludes parents mixing languages has no impact on children's language development

Related Stories

Study concludes parents mixing languages has no impact on children's language development

June 12, 2015
Many adults speak more than one language, and often "mix" those languages when speaking to their children, a practice called "code-switching." An eye-opening study by researchers in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences ...

Speech and language deficits in children with autism may not cause tantrums

May 3, 2017
Speech or language impairments may not be the cause of more frequent tantrums in children with autism, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers. The findings could help parents of children with autism seek ...

In young bilingual children two languages develop simultaneously but independently

April 20, 2017
A new study of Spanish-English bilingual children by researchers at Florida Atlantic University published in the journal Developmental Science finds that when children learn two languages from birth each language proceeds ...

When do speech difficulties in children matter for literacy?

November 7, 2016
A new study found that speech difficulties are linked with difficulties in learning to read when children first start school, but these effects are no longer apparent at 8 years of age.

Early-life language stimulation, skills may prevent childhood depression

September 7, 2016
Childhood depression can lead to social, emotional and academic setbacks during childhood and later in life. However, little is known about what contributes to children's developing depressive symptoms. Researchers from University ...

Early screening alone is not enough to give children language boost

June 18, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Pre-school children should be more closely monitored by health and early years professionals to try and identify potential language problems, new research suggests.

Recommended for you

Researchers find increased risk of birth defects in babies after first-trimester exposure to lithium

June 18, 2018
Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai found an elevated risk of major congenital malformations in fetuses after first-trimester exposure to lithium, in the largest study ever to examine the risk of ...

Changing room playlist could give World Cup teams the edge

June 18, 2018
Blasting out Rihanna or Kanye West could give World Cup squads that crucial psychological edge over rival teams, suggests research from Brunel University London.

Gut microbes may contribute to depression and anxiety in obesity

June 18, 2018
Like everyone, people with type 2 diabetes and obesity suffer from depression and anxiety, but even more so. Researchers at Joslin Diabetes Center now have demonstrated a surprising potential contributor to these negative ...

Nature programmes could put a spring in your step

June 18, 2018
New research shows that watching TV programmes such as the BBC's Springwatch and Countryfile might actually be good for you.

Helicopter parenting may negatively affect children's emotional well-being, behavior

June 18, 2018
It's natural for parents to do whatever they can to keep their children safe and healthy, but children need space to learn and grow on their own, without Mom or Dad hovering over them, according to new research published ...

Why you should eat popcorn with chopsticks – and other psychological tricks to make life more enjoyable

June 18, 2018
It happens fast. You crack open a bottle of your favorite drink and put it to your lips. The delicious flavor is nearly overwhelming. But a minute later, you're barely noticing the taste as you drink it.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.