每日英語跟讀 Ep.915: Traditional Toys May Beat Gadgets in Language Development
Baby laptops, baby cellphones, talking farms — these are the whirring, whiz-bang toys of the moment, many of them marketed as tools to encourage babies' language skills.
But a new study raises questions about whether such electronic playthings make it less likely that babies will engage in the verbal give-and-take with their parents that is so crucial to cognitive development.
The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, found that when babies and parents played with electronic toys that are specifically advertised as language-promoters, parents spoke less and responded less to baby babbling than when they played with traditional toys like blocks or read board books. Babies also vocalized less when playing with electronic toys.
"My hunch is that they were letting the baby interact with the toy and they were on the sidelines," said Anna V. Sosa, an associate professor of communications science and disorders at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, who led the study.
The study builds on a growing body of research suggesting that electronic toys and e-books can make parents less likely to have the most meaningful kinds of verbal exchanges with their children.
"When you put the gadgets and gizmos in, the parents stop talking," said Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a professor of psychology at Temple University who was not involved in the new study, but who has found similar effects with e-books and electronic shape-sorters. "What you get is more behavioral regulation stuff, like 'don't touch that' or 'do this,' or nothing because the books and toys take it over for you."
She added, "A toy should be 10 percent toy and 90 percent child, and with a lot of these electronic toys the toy takes over 90 percent and the child just fills in the blank."
Sosa said she was surprised by the results. She had expected some parent-baby pairs would talk more with one type of toy, while others would talk more with another.
But the results were consistent almost across the board. When electronic toys were being used, parents said about 40 words per minute, on average, compared with 56 words per minute for traditional toys and 67 words per minute with books.
The study was small — 26 families — and most were white and educated. So the researchers say the results might be different with a larger and more diverse group. But the study is notable because it sought to capture real world parent-child playtime in their homes without researchers watching.
Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/292769/web/