A new study by SMU psychologist Sarah Cooker and colleagues suggests that passive video use among young children may negatively affect language development, but that their caregivers may be able to provide them with digital media. Incentives to expose may also reduce this effect.

The results show that children between the ages of 17 and 30 months spend an average of almost two hours per day watching videos – a 100 percent increase from estimates collected before the COVID pandemic. This research shows a negative relationship between high levels of digital media viewing and children’s vocabulary development.

Children exposed to videos of babysitters for their calming or “babysitting” benefits tend to use fewer words and phrases. However, the negative effects on language skills were reduced when the videos were used for educational purposes or to promote social connections — such as through video chats with family members.

“In those first two years of life, language is one of the primary components of development that we know media can influence,” said Kucker, assistant professor of psychology in SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. “Less research has been done on young children using digital media compared to older ones, which is why we are trying to better understand how digital media affects this age group and what kind of Screen time is beneficial and what not.”

Published in the journal. Acta PediatricaThe study included 302 caregivers of children between the ages of 17 and 30 months. Caregivers answered questions about their child’s vocabulary, sentences, and how much time they spent on different media activities each day. These activities included video/TV, video games, video chat, and e-books, with caregivers explaining why they used each activity with their child. Print book reading was also compared.

The researchers looked at the amount of media use and the reasons given by caregivers for their children’s media use. These factors were then compared with children’s vocabulary and length of utterances in which two or more words were used together (average length of utterance).

Cooker suggests that caregivers need to consider the types of videos their children are watching (whether for learning or entertainment) and the young children watching those videos. How to interact with She acknowledges that parents often use digital media to help children complete tasks. Cooker recommends that caregivers consider how much digital media they allow young children and whether they can interact with them while using it.

The study findings underscore the need for parents, caregivers, and teachers to be aware of the potential impact of digital media on language development in children 30 months and younger. By understanding the types of digital media children use and the reasons for their use, appropriate steps can be taken to ensure healthy language development.

Future research by Kucker and her colleagues will explore what kinds of videos young children watch, how they interact with others on screens, and whether this new normal occurs if young children watch digital media for up to two hours. and, if so, how it affects language development. .

Members of the research team included Rachel Barr from Georgetown University and Lynn Kay Perry from the University of Miami. Research reported in this press release was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health under award number R15HD101841. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.