Moms: Turn Off the Television to Interact with Your Kids

Family Matters on 09.16.11

Watching those episodes of "The Backyardigans" with your child may not be as good for him as you think: A new study from Ohio State University showed that mothers who watched television with their children were less engaged with their kids and had fewer interactions with the children then mothers playing with books or toys, reports Science Daily.

The researchers gave 73 pairs of mothers and children the choice of reading books, playing with toys, or watching television together, and found that the level of "maternal responsiveness" varied by activity: "Mothers who co-read books communicated significantly more with their children than mothers watching TV," writes Science Daily. "The amount of communication involved in reading was not significantly higher than playing with toys. However, the quality of maternal responsiveness was higher in books than toys."

But why does it matter? Parental response can help infants learn that they have some control over their environment, say researchers, and it also helps kids develop their language and communication skills.

"In some cases children are left alone to watch TV, missing out on any parental communication at a critical stage in their development," said the report.

More from Science Daily.

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