If you’re a parent that feels ashamed or guilty when cuddling up with your child by the TV, don’t worry – new research says watching TV with your kids is actually beneficial for them. Of course, too much exposure is still something parents want to avoid, but it won’t hurt in moderation.
The new findings are credited to the University of Portsmouth and Paris Nanterre University, France in Frontiers in Psychology. Researchers ran more than 475 studies over a two-year period and were interested in the impact early exposure to TV has on children and infants.
To many parents’ surprise, researchers found that some screen exposure – television, mobile device, computer, etc. – can benefit kids at an early age. They added that it largely depends on the context in which the content is viewed, which is why a parent’s presence is recommended.
One thing you can do, as a parent or a family member, when watching TV with your kids is talk about what’s on the screen, explain what they’re watching, and ask questions along the way. It not only increases their level of understanding but makes for a special bonding moment.
“Watching television with your child and elaborating and commenting on what is viewed can help enhance their understanding of the content, reinforcing their learning during educational programs,” said Dr. Eszter Somogyi, who works at the University of Portsmouth.
“Weak narrative, fast pace editing, and complex stimuli can make it difficult for a child to extract or generalize information. But when screen content is appropriate for a child’s age, it’s likely to have a positive effect, particularly when it’s designed to encourage interaction,” added Somogyi.
Just think about all the stereotypes found in television and film today – they’re everywhere. When children watch these shows by themselves, they’re exposed to those stereotypes without questioning them or even understanding that they’re a stereotype.
Watching TV with your kids allows the parent an opportunity to teach children about these stereotypes and how to better treat those around them. For example, you can pause the show and ask them how they would handle certain situations.
Watching TV With Your Kids is Fine, But Avoid Too Much Exposure
For the longest time, parents viewed any technology as a big no-no for their children. As we learn more about the impact it has on a child’s growth and development, it’s becoming clear that technology isn’t all bad and even has some benefits, when utilized properly.
With that said, it’s important to practice moderation as too much exposure can have adverse effects. This is especially true since the COVID-19 pandemic when screen use and technology took precedence over social, person-to-person interaction.
Of course, that’s coupled with the fact that “the number of television programs targeting infants has been increasing” and screen time has more than doubled among infants over the past 20 years – according to Science Daily.
“I think the most important challenge of our societies for future generations is to make adults and young people aware of the risk of an unconsidered or inappropriate use of screen use,” said one researcher at Paris Nanterre University.
If you’re looking for a new activity for you and your children to enjoy after a long day, then watching TV with your kids might be the new go-to. Add in a yummy snack, comfortable clothes, and an even more comfortable blanket, and you’ll be ready to bond with the little one!
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