Language development is one of the many cognitive milestones that infants experience. Even though their language capacities are not fully developed, research supports the hypothesis that children's experiences in the earliest years influence language. Children reared in poverty use shorter and less complex sentences than peers from affluent homes. The richness and variety of language is highly significant and the amount a child is read to and spoken to is critical to future language development (Boyd & Bee, 2006, chap. 4).
Why does it matter that children hear a large quantity of language from their caregivers? Wouldn't watching TV be good enough?
Let's take a closer look. I also provide an excerpt which describes a study more fully related to this topic.
1. Why does it matter that children hear a large quantity of language from their caregivers? Wouldn't watching TV be good enough?
It matters because when caregivers use a large quality of language to a child, the child not only hears the language but also enters into conversation with the caregiver. In other words, a child learns language not only from hearing but practicing the words in reaction to the caregiver. This interactive process results in language development in the child, as well as brain development in cognitive areas of the brain. In other words, the more words that are spoken by the caregiver and child (in interaction with each other)-the greater the language acquisition and cognitive development is seen in the child.
In contract, exposure to audible television has negative implications for language acquisition and brain development as there are fewer words spoken by both the caregiver and the child when watching and listening to television. For example, in a recent study, the researcher found that young children (2 months to four years old) (N= 329) and their adult caregivers uttered fewer vocalizations, used fewer words and engaged in fewer conversations when in the presence of audible television. This is the first population-based study of its kind completed in the home environment guide by the researcher (Christakis, 2009). Christakis reports: "We've known that television exposure during infancy is associated with language delays and attentional problems, but so far it has remained unclear why" and: "This study is the first to demonstrate that when the television is on, there is reduced speech in the home. Infants ...
Concerning language development, this solution explains why it matters that children hear a large quantity of language from their caregivers, and if watching TV would be good enough.