Early Childhood ‘Educational’ DVD Watching Does Not Aid Language Development

In the very near future, the Haysville Community Library will be increasing the number of times and days on which we offer Children’s Storytime.

One of the reasons we are so committed to Children’s Storytime, and to helping young parents find the best books to read to and with their children, is the overwhelming evidence that reading to your child is one of the most effective ways in which you can give them a substantial head start, and prepare them for a richer and more meaningful life.

At the same time, however, we believe it is important for parents to observe the accumulating evidence that, among children aged 1 to 2 years, there appears to be no evidence that general language learning or vocabulary is improved by viewing educational baby videos.

The Journal of the American Medical Association & Archives, in Infants Do Not Appear to Learn Words from Educational DVDs, reported the results of a study published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. In research funded by the National Science Foundation, “Rebekah A. Richert, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of California, Riverside, studied vocabulary acquisition among 96 children age 12 to 24 months. Participants were tested on measures of vocabulary and general development, and their primary caregivers (77 mothers, seven fathers and four others) answered a series of questions about their children’s development and previous exposure to educational media. Half of the children were then given an educational DVD to watch in their homes.

“When additional tests were conducted after six weeks, there was no evidence children learned the words specifically highlighted in the DVDs, and watching the DVDs was unrelated to measures of general language learning. However, children whose parents reported that they began watching infant DVDs at an early age scored lower on a test of vocabulary knowledge.[emphasis added]

“The association between early DVD viewing and delays in language development could have several explanations, the authors note: ‘Parents who are concerned about their children’s poor language abilities may use baby DVDs to try to teach their children, parents who use baby DVDs early may be less likely to engage in behaviors that promote language development or early viewing of baby DVDs may actually impair language development,’ they write.”

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Published in: on March 7, 2010 at 10:54 pm  Leave a Comment