07 October 2012

Too much media known to harm language learning

RPN old-timer Edith del Rosario is letting God take over the turbulence and uncertainties at her station which she has loyally served for 38 years.  She is more concerned that his charming two-year-old grandson Manu was diagnosed  by a child development specialist as having the intelligence of a four-year-old but still unable to construct sentencaes longer than four words.
aManu could name animals in pictures as exotic as the giraffe and as domesticated as the dog. He could easily identify all the household items around him. However, he has difficulty making coherent statements outside of the standard hello and goodbye.

Asked by the suspicious pediatrician, Edith confirmed that the boy was already adept with the iPad as early as last year and could even boot the computer and easily navigate till he gets to YouTube. The answer was as startling as it was obvious. Manu was spending hours with technology that indeed gave information.
However, his vocabulary was peppered with “No connection” and “Low battery.” The gadgets spoke to him in a manner that he was well informed about data. But they did not allow him to speak back. Human interaction was sorely absent.  Hence, the poor little Manu, despite being loved and pampered, was unable to nurture his social self properly, in his tender years.
A child under three years old who watches an inordinate amount of television and consumes a lot of media is unable to experience interactive language which is important to language learning and development. It is no different from a child left alone to fend for himself in the forest in the company of animals. He will adopt the ways of the forest and the beasts and will learn to snarl and growl, rather than utter words.
Edith has since made drastic moves in her household, slowly weaning the boy from media and making more time for him. He was given more time to socialize with other children and brought out more often rather than left alone. He now has more age-appropriate toys and educational tools, many of them hand-me-downs from Brian, the boy’s father.
Smarter because of the enlightenment, Edith is also maximizing her time with work at her church and various advocacies. She will make a parental testimony when she, along with other broadcasters, addresses a large Anak TV symposium at the Lord’s Flock in Quezon City on October 20. She will use the chance to underscore the need for caution in allowing children to explore media alone. She will speak with authority because her beloved Manu is a genuine case in point.
In the discussion, it is almost certain that Edith will echo what the director of The Florida State University’s School of Communication Science & Disorders Dr. Kenn Apel preaches. “Even if the child isn’t sitting directly in front of the TV, having it on in the background can distract him. Their interaction is interrupted or, even worse, not happening.  The best way to help a child learn language is to interact with him – play, read and follow his lead as he engages in the world.  This will not happen when children and parents are distracted.  Turning the TV off is an easy fix to a very real problem.”




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