For every hour in front of the TV, parents spoke 770 fewer words to children, according to a study of 329 children, ages 2 months to 4 years, in the June issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. Adults usually speak about 941 words an hour.
Children vocalized less, too, says author Dimitri Christakis of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute. In some cases, parents may have spoken less because they sat a child in front of a TV and left the room, he says. In others, parents simply zoned out themselves while watching TV with a child. Researchers didn’t note the content of the TV shows.
The study is available here.