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Do you use the TV as a babysitter?

A quarter of parents of young children in the UK use television as a babysitter, with huge consequences.

Communication experts say it is best to watch TV with young children. What do they mean?

Well, watching TV and sharing in the experience of a programme with your children is better than leaving them to sit alone and change from channel to channel There needs to be some form of control , some time limit to their viewing with boundaries set. After all this is necessary in adult life too.

TV is a great way to learn. Experts agree saying parents need to watch TV with their children to provide a good learning opportunity.

In this way they can spark off conversation and introduce new words to their children.

“Turn that telly off, or you’ll get square eyes,” we would often hear our mother say.media diet for kids

It also means children should watch programmes appropriate to their age and specifically designed for them.

However sadly the above is rare – 45% of children ( aged 2 – 9 years ) watch TV alone without parental guidance, flicking from  programmes such as EastEnders, The X Factor and Coronation Street.

Nearly eight out of 10 children watch TV by themselves for two hours every day.

And when parents do view programmes with their children, only 15% use them to start a conversation

A fifth say they sit in silence with their children.

A New campaign has been established to remind and teach us about better communication with our children. It offers help and support to parents and schools . A theme a month helps us concentrate on what and how to best talk, listen and take part in conversation.

The campaign is called Hello

Hello seeks to support parents and children wherever they are – in schools, nurseries, health centres, parent and baby groups or local authority – to help improve the communication skills of children and young people so that they can fulfil their potential.

We all know, communication is fundamental to many of the things we want for ourselves and our children. It is how we connect with other people. It underpins everything we do and helps us live life to the full.

There is sometimes an assumption that speech, language and communication develops and flourishes no matter what. This is not the case. Children don’t learn to talk by accident. They need adults to nurture and support their communication development. The more those adults know and understand about language and how it develops, the easier it is to help.

Speech and language therapist, and spokeswoman for the campaign, Wendy Lee, said the survey highlighted some fantastic opportunties:

She said there were areas where parents would benefit from more information and advice.

"TV can be used as a fantastic opportunity to bring children's favourite characters and shows to life beyond the box as well.

"Chatting about characters, making up stories and even acting out adventures can help parents develop their child's language and communication," she said.

The campaign is publishing a 10-point plan to encourage parents to use TV as an opportunity to talk with their pre-school children. More information on this and the campaign can be found on the Hello Campaign website.

Also read ; The Media Diet at Childalert



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