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TV noise can hinder toddlers picking up new words, study claims

Published 21/07/2016

Child learns more words in a quieter environment, according to US experts
Child learns more words in a quieter environment, according to US experts

Background noise from the radio or TV can make it harder for toddlers to learn new words, research suggests.

Scientists conducted experiments in which children aged around two were taught new words while hearing soft or loud background speech.

Only toddlers exposed to the quieter sounds s uccessfully learned the words.

Further tests showed they were better at grasping the meaning of words that had earlier been learned in a quieter environment.

Psychologist Brianna McMillan, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, US, said: "Learning words is an important skill that provides a foundation for children's ability to achieve academically.

" Modern homes are filled with noisy distractions such as TV, radio, and people talking that could affect how children learn words at early ages.

"Our study suggests that adults should be aware of the amount of background speech in the environment when they're interacting with young children."

A total of 106 children, aged 22 to 30 months, took part in the study. They were taught names for unfamiliar objects and then tested on their ability to recognise the objects when they were labelled.

The research is reported in the journal, Child Development.

The findings may be especially relevant to crowded low-income households that tend to have higher noise levels, said the scientists.

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