Communication is paramount in life. That is why language development is an extremely important aspect of children growth. Children learn how to communicate from their environment. Therefore, if the environment is conducive for the children to develop language then children will learn language swiftly. Where the environment is not conducive then the children have a challenge learning how to communicate. An example, of an unhealthy environment for children to develop language is the television. This is because the television pace of conversation is high as opposed to the child capability.
Language development in infants has drawn out various studies on either the elements that catalyze or damage it. Therefore, an important note to make is that social interaction has been linked to increased language development among children (Roseberry, Hirsh-Pasek, & Golinkoff, 2013). Today it is difficult for parents to spend quality time with their children, which has, in turn, led to toddlers being exposed to television programs for them to learn and attain instruction (Cooper, Uller, Pettifer, & Stolc, 2009). On the question of television being a detrimental factor in language growth in infants, an objective analysis shows that it is linked to slow language growth because it displaces conversation between adults and toddlers.
It is also true that the content is too complex for the children to understand. The information is inconsistent and lacks repetition that is paramount for the child to develop language. The television lacks room for conversation. The television also takes up all the time for the child to play and engage other children. The television lacks the avenue for children to interact with the presenter. However, the proponent of television hindrance to language development among children argues that television informs and educate the children (Christakis et al., 2009). This paper aims at delineating how watching television deters language development among children.
First, social media such as television lacks direct interaction with the children. Children learn language by interacting with people in their environment. This makes a child active learner. However, watching television makes a child a passive receiver of information. Babies find difficulty in learning to talk by listening and watching television as compared to social interaction. A study by leading researchers in language acquisition, Kuhl, Tsao, and Liu (2003) showed that when it comes to children, social interaction is better than television programs. Kuhl and her associates presented 9-month American children to the Mandarin language, which was unfamiliar to them. In one experiment, children were allowed to interact with live and real Mandarin speakers.
After 12 sessions, the children could show intelligence in the language and had enhanced skills of discriminating some speech sound that is common in Mandarin. Kuhl, Tsao, and Liu (2003) carried out another control experiment on a set of infants who only viewed language tutorials that were televised. The result was completely different. The toddlers who were exposed to the Mandarin language through television were not able to discriminate speech sounds that are common with the language. The similarity between the two experiments was the fact that the speakers looked directly at the children and discussed toys in a baby-friendly way, the infant-directed speech. The only difference between the two was the social element. Kuhl, Tsao, and Liu (2003) point out that children need a social tutor, as opposed to computational automatons when it comes to natural language learning. Kuhl, Tsao, and Liu (2003), also found that children who are exposed to watching television to as early as seven months will understand some words and will have known how to speak earlier that those who do not watch.
However, the learned words are simply mimics of the television, and the child will not even know what these words mean. Therefore, there is nil language development if the child utters words he or she is not aware of what they mean. For a child development in language, face to face encounters is effective. Watching too much will cause a child to lack this aspect since a television does not provide face to face interactions (Cooper, Uller, Pettifer, & Stolc, 2009). A lot of research has been carried out to find out the effects of child’s exposure to television with regards to language development, findings state that television watching by small children is very detrimental to their development. It encourages interactions of children with different backgrounds thus providing a social benefit which in turn improves the child’s language development.
Second, television lacks a room for conversation between the children and the presenters. The children need to talk with other people so that they can communicate. However, television does not offer the children a chance to converse with the person presenting. Conversation, as opposed to listening, has a more positive effect on the development of language in children as proven through Christakis et al. (2009). experiment. The study involved young children aged from 0 to 4 years, who were fitted with recording devices. These recording tools allowed the researchers to measure objectively how the conversation with adults and television affected each child’s experience.
The results found that social talk, a conversation between the children and adults, was associated with better development in the language. The more time that toddlers were involved in a conversation with adults, the quicker their language improved. The conversation offers children the motivation to keep trying to master a language as a child is rewarded after pronouncing a word correctly. While when watching television the child might try to imitate the words but no word recognizes the attempt then the child will be discouraged from trying. This explains how the child is left behind in language development while watching television (Cooper, Uller, Pettifer, & Stolc, 2009).
Third, television takes time for the children to play and interact with their environment. Watching television glues the child to the couch denying the child time to play and be innovative. Children who are exposed more to television comprehend only a few words. For every hour that a toddler spends watching a baby program, they are able to grasp fewer words as compared to those who actively interact with their parents. Telling stories and communicating interactively with infants constantly, increases their vocabulary. In addition to this, general television programming tends to have numerous commercials that have negative or little effects on a toddler’s education (Christakis et al., 2009).
Children who view programs that have an influx of drama, commercial news, sports, and cartoons have the inclination of having a poor way of expressing themselves and a lower vocabulary. When the television is on, the parents and children tend to interact less. Television has also been linked with distracting children from activities such as playing even when they are not watching. According to Argadona (2013), a pediatrician television do more harm than good to young children because the children are enticed by fancy pictures taking up all the time that the child would have used to play. Playing offers the child with brain growth.
Fourth, the pace of the television is too fast for the children to catch up. Television does not accommodate the slow understanding of the child. Besides the content on the television is for people who have adept knowledge of reading and listening to a large amount of information within a very short span. Therefore, the television hinders a child to understand or to develop language because there is too much information than the child can handle. Children require a person to talk slowly and use limited words so that a child develops language. This is not the case with watching television (Roseberry, Hirsh-Pasek, & Golinkoff, 2013).
Fifth, there is no repetition on television. Children who are developing a language are new to every word and repetition is salient for the child to remember and be able to pronounce the word. The television does not repeat words and therefore the child is always left hanging wondering what happened. This renders the child no opportunity for learning a language. In one word child time is squandered he or she learns nothing when watching television (Christakis et al., 2009).
Sixth, television distracts the children. The child needs to concentrate on what is said for him or her to develop language. However, with the television on and many images flashing the child is distracted from listening to the guardian. This makes language development a problem among the affected children. Even though it is witnessed that the background noise of television has developed the child’s ability to develop recognition to television, it is also witnessed that the same background noise reduces the parent’s attention to the child that in turn lead to a reduction in interaction. Furthermore, this television background noise has also proved to distract both parents and the children’s concentrations towards each other, therefore, parents are swayed away by such noise and leads to reduction of spending the time required with the child and also cause a parent not to respond to the child (Cooper, Uller, Pettifer, & Stolc, 2009).
Seventh, watching television confuses children. The content of television is inconsistent because of the use of different language, different accent, and intonation. Moreover, there is a constant interruption when one is watching television. The child is often lost in the midst of this cause, his or her mind unable to process what is going on. Consequently, child language development is delayed as the child struggles to understand which the best way to pronounce words (Christakis et al., 2009).
Eighth, the television language is too complex for a child. The children’s mind is young to comprehend complex terms. The television does not simplify the language for the children that is why the children are unable to develop language despite watching television. Scholarly work has proved that simple words hasten the speed of which children learn the language (Cooper, Uller, Pettifer, & Stolc, 2009).
Ninth, watching television offers the children salient information for language development. For instance, television offers programs that are tailored to children understanding. Through such programs children can develop language. Television most popular medium that relays information more conveniently. The medium is insignificant as compared to the information itself. (Kuhl, Tsao, & Liu, 2003) indicate that children who watch age-appropriate educational programs, show improved recall and problem-solving abilities. There are certain aspects of television such as quick change or fast-paced scenes that can lead to the development of short attention period. Cooper et al (2009) study on the comparison between the effects of slow and fast-paced edit on 7 and 4-year children supported this ideology (Christakis et al., 2009).
In conclusion, watching television is a detriment to language development among children. Lack of direct interaction between the presenter and the child, complex language use in television, fast pace and an enormous amount of information among other reason renders watching television a hindrance to language development. Other scholars, however, argue that watching television boost language development because it offers the children child’s programs that are education. From the conscientious review of literature, it is prudent to assert that evidence supporting that watching television hinders language development is undeniable.
Besides, television offering child’s programs do not offer an avenue for language development because the pace of the program is not children friendly plus the content is too complicated for the children. The guardian should limit their children to watching television and instead engage their children so that they can develop language swiftly.