An interesting story from a newspaper across the Atlantic Ocean – the British government’s communication chief, Jean Gross, has warned against parents using in-car TVs, but not over concerns for safety. Instead, she fears that children would not be using the time to learn new vocabulary from interacting with their parents on the road, and playing spotting games in the car like “I Spy” – all of which means that parents aiming to keep the kids quiet during long car journeys could be doing just that, and having an adverse effect on their speech development.
From the article:
[Gross] said that long car journeys were opportunities to “double their vocabulary” and warned that children of wealthy families were most at risk because they were likely to have the latest technology.
“I remember [when my children were little] we did spotting games in the car, but with the Nintendo DS and other hand-held video games it’s going to be more affluent parents whose children have problems learning to speak, not just those from poorer homes who have less exposure to a wide range of language,” Mrs Gross told The Times.
Personally I feel like this is going a little over the top, but I do see where the concern is coming from. Children absorb new information so easily during formative years that it is a shame to waste hours of possible interaction during a journey where their changing surroundings are almost guaranteed to show them something new.
However, surely a compromise would be to let the children watch the TV in the car, but give them Sesame Street to watch?