Frequently Asked Questions about Communication in Young Children 2 to 3 Years

Is Television Good for Language Development?

My child loves to watch television. At first I used to just let him watch half an hour a day of his favourite programme but now he asks to have it switched on more and more. It certainly helps to give me a bit of peace and quiet to get jobs done. I know people say young children should not watch too much television but surely listening to all those words must have a positive effect on language development, doesn't it?

No, it does not. The American Academy of Pediatrics says 'no television under age 3'. Television is not a tool for learning language. Your child needs concrete and direct conversation with interaction and opportunities to take turns talking. Language makes sense only if it is directed to him and related to something in his environment. Your child cannot always figure out what the characters on television are talking about or doing. The language of TV is not accessible. Children are sensitive to noise, and too much is disturbing: a television with a newscast in the den, an iPod playing jazz in the kitchen, and a ringing cell phone can be a sensory overload. Movies, DVDs, and computer screen time are in the same category: no exposure from birth to age three.