Washington: Watching TV can lead to less interaction between parents and children, with a detrimental impact on literacy and language skills, a new study has shown.
The study, conducted by Amy Nathanson and Eric Rasmussen from Ohio State University, focused on ‘maternal responsiveness’ to reveal differences in the way mothers communicate with their children while engaged with books, toys, and TV.
“Maternal responsiveness describes the quality of responses that a mother provides to an infant when they interact,” said Nathanson.
“When a mother and child are focusing on the same object, be that a book, toy or TV show, the mother’s response can have an important impact on their child’s understanding and self perception.”
The researchers suggest that explaining and describing objects or new words and images, or by prompting conversation through questions, maternal responsiveness can help to engage a child with the activity.
The parent can also provide positive feedback and encouragement to a child, or repeat what the child has said to help familiarize them with certain words or sights.
“Mothers who are responsive to their infant’s communication promote a positive self-perception for the child as well as fostering trust in the parent. Positive responses help the child learn that they can affect their environment,” said Nathanson.
“However, if maternal responsiveness is absent, children learn that their environment is unpredictable and may become anxious, knowing that their bids for attention or help may be ignored,” she added.
The study will be published in Human Communication Research.\