With technology being a common feature in the everyday lives of Americans, many parents are turning to media use for early childhood schooling. The availability of entertainment and educational broadcasting allows busy adults to present such programs to their youth. However, researchers found that such methods are less effective than interactive training.
A recent study by Dr. John Hutton, a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, found that teaching infants to read from works that depict both picture and text is more effective than alternative methods. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), he presented 27 kids, aged four to five, with the same story in audio, illustrated, and animated formats.
He analyzed brain regions involved in visual awareness and language processing. The results displayed that a picture and texts combination most strengthened the connectivity of various neural networks that are especially sensitive at young ages.
Dr. Hutton explains:
“Our findings suggest that illustrated format provides visual scaffolding that assists the language network and encourages active imagery and self-reflection in young children, while animation may inhibit such network integration in favor of continuous audio-visual perception.”
These findings suggest that auditory files strained children’s minds upon listening. In contrast, the animation was too quick for the participants to process adequately. The kids expended the most energy under this condition, but their comprehension scores were the lowest. Illustrated books, however, were the best educational tool for young learners.
Is Screen Time Healthy?
The researchers now question the influence of cartoons on neural development. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, individuals age two and up should not exceed one to two hours per day of screen-based media. They also recommend for parents to begin reading to their infants as early as possible to promote healthy brain growth.
When caregivers read to their children, it creates a bonding situation and helps to create a secure attachment. As found by the scientific publication Clinics in Perinatology, such activities spur healthy emotional and cognitive growth.
Adults must lead by example. According to an article on LN, use of media entertainment, such as smartphones, during mentally straining activities significantly reduces learning abilities and intellectual capacities. In one instance, a medical school resident became distracted by a text message and forgot to properly medicate a patient, leading to the client’s death. Furthermore, some public high schools have seen a 14.23% increase in grades among low performing students after banning smartphones from the campus.
So, what’s the moral of the story? Put down the phone and tablet, turn off the TV, and read to your child. It’s good for them.