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Background TV interferes with parent-child interactions

More than a third of American infants and toddlers live in homes where the television is on most or all the time, even if no one’s watching. The results of a new study reveal that background TV has a negative impact on interactions between parents and their young children. The research appeared in the September/October 2009 issue of the journal Child Development.

In a study of 50 children between the ages of one and three years, researchers at the University of Massachusetts found that when exposed to background television, both the quantity and quality of interactions between parents and children dropped significantly. When a TV was on, parents spent about 20 percent less time talking to their children and the quality of their interactions declined, with parents becoming less active, less attentive, and less responsive to their youngsters.

It may seem that if you’re not intentionally watching television, there’s no harm in leaving it on. The results of this new study suggest that for moms and dads who want to enjoy quality time with their children, turning off the TV is an important first step.

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