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Talk With Kids, Not At Them
Date:6/29/2009

Give-and-take conversations speed language development, study finds,,

MONDAY, June 29 (HealthDay News) -- If you want to help children develop language and speech skills, UCLA researchers say, listening to what they have to say is just as important as talking to them.

The effect of a conversation between a child and an adult is about six times as great as the effect of adult speech input alone, the researchers found. The results of their study appear in the July issue of Pediatrics.

"Adults speaking to children helps language develop, but what matters much more is the interaction," said the study's lead author, Frederick Zimmerman, an associate professor in the school of public health at the University of California, Los Angeles. "The child speaking is a big part of what drives language development. The more the child speaks, it reinforces their knowledge."

The researchers also found that TV viewing didn't have much of an effect -- positively or negatively -- as long as it wasn't displacing conversations between an adult and a child.

That, however, may be exactly what's happening in many homes. A study in the June issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that for every additional hour of television exposure, young children heard 770 fewer words from an adult. And, infants watching TV made fewer vocalizations when adults spoke to them.

The UCLA study included 275 families with children between 2 months and 48 months old. They represented a variety of incomes and education. Most families were white, with 3 percent of the families black, 8 percent Hispanic and 7 percent another non-white ethnicity.

On a randomly chosen day, parents recorded their child's entire day, from wake-up until the child went to sleep. Each family provided about five full-day recordings during the six-month study. In addition, 71 of the families continued the study for 18 mon
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