Can talking to children during TV times encourage curiosity?


Recent research suggested a link between curiosity and better school performance.  There are also reports that hours spent watching TV might adversely affect some areas of development in young children.  Now there is a study that offers a way of countering negative effects of TV watching while encouraging curiosity in young children. The key is engaging in conversation with young children during shared TV time.

Researchers found that the more parents engaged in conversation with preschoolers while watching TV, the more likely those children were to have higher curiosity levels when they reached kindergarten. This was particularly true for children with socioeconomic disadvantages.

Prachi Shah, M.D. M.S., a developmental and behavioural paediatrician at University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital said “Our findings reinforce the importance of parent conversation to promote early childhood development and curiosity, especially for children from under-resourced families.”

“Parent-child conversation facilitates children’s thinking, learning and exploration—all behavioural indicators of curiosity” she said and added: “We know that more frequent parent-child conversation is promotive of several areas of early child development, and this could be true for promoting a child’s curiosity as well.”

Sitting in front of the TV alone or while parents are on their phones? Perhaps not so beneficial. But watching a show, movie, or other content with parents while talking together could be associated with fostering a preschoolers’ curiosity, Shah said.

The findings appear in PLOS ONE.


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