When infants in low socio-economic households are exposed to television and video, their mothers are less likely to interact with them, says a new study.
The study led by Dr Alan L. Mendelsohn, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Clinical Research for the divisions of General and Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics at NYU School of Medicine assessed the parent-infant interactions related to specific media content.
The study showed that when programming was educational and co-viewed by both mother and infant in each other's presence, the interactions increased.
However, it did reveal that the educational programming did not promote co-viewing, a factor that contributes to verbal interactions.
"Our conclusions are especially significant because parent-infant interactions have huge ramifications for early child development, as well as school advancement and success during adolescence," said Mendelsohn.
Previous studies by Kaiser Family Foundation had also showed that
61 percent of children younger than two years of age are exposed to television on a daily basis.
The present study found that 97 percent of mothers with 6-month olds reported their infants were exposed to television or radio at the median rate of two hours a day.
Mendelsohn believes that the recent results would have important implications for health care providers who work with parents of young children, many of whom are exposed to television and videos.
He said that the study also suggests that pediatricians increase efforts to promote verbal interactions with respect to media exposure and other daily activities, such as eating, playing and reading aloud.
"Our concern is that parents may still perceive educational programming as enough of a reason to park their infants in front of the television, instead of co-viewing and interacting with their infants," said Mendelsohn.
"Passive viewing does not lead to interaction between infant and mother," he added.
The study is published in the May issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.