Language mainly describes the ability of a human being to learn and adapt to complex methods through which he or she can pass information to another human being. In human beings, the learning of language begins when a baby is born. The baby utters some sounds, which are then interpreted by the adults in its surrounding and react to them. For example, a baby crying may be interpreted as a sign that the baby is in discomfort or that the baby is hungry and therefore the adult has to react and give the baby the necessary attention. Universally, the initial language that all babies have is the same (Bus, 2009). As time moves on, the baby acquires different language from the surroundings and the people he or she interacts with. Taking into account that the brain of a baby can be said to be “blank” at birth and filled with information as the baby grows, it has been found that a baby learns quickly at its tender age. This implies that the surrounding plays a very big role in shaping what language the baby learns. Therefore, it is vital to expose the child to proper environment in order to enhance his or her language development.
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In the current world, children are born to parents who are at the height of their careers and it has been found out that these parents have hardly any time to spend with their children during the development stage. What happens is that television is given the role of babysitting; it keeps the baby or the child occupied until the time the parent gets back home later. What the parents do not realize is that there has been research that shows that using television to occupy children has a negative social effect on them and affects their language development. It has been shown through several studies that television viewing is likely to decrease a child’s chance of getting to know new words, talking, responding to communication as well as learning how to intonate the speech. A research by a pediatrician Dr. Dimitri Christakis (University of Washington) shows that television viewing among children inhibits their potential to interact with other people. He continues to report that the parents are affected too when their children get engrossed with whatever they are viewing and thus this puts a cap to the exchanges between the child and the parent thereby inhibiting the development of language for the infant. He continues to show that the television has caused a major detachment of the parents from their children, which in turn limits the words that are exchanged between the parent and the child. This exchange of words is the one that provides the building blocks for the development of the child’s language. Christakis further provides figures that every hour that the television was switched on, the child was likely to have heard 770 words less from a human adult in the same room. This meant that the baby could only hear but not talk as is shown that conversational exchange between the parent and the child decreased by alarming 15% (Benson and Haith, 2009). This is a proof that television has slowly but surely crippled the primary language teacher to the child, the parent.
During the period in which a child is learning to talk, dialogue is very essential between the child and the other party. Research work has found that social one-on-one talk between children and adults resulted in better language development. It showed that the more the children participated in a dialogue with their parents, the more their skills towards language sharpened. What happens with television viewing is that the child only listens and the television talks. This creates a monologue in which the child hardly pays attention to the sound but is very fascinated by the pictures he or she is viewing. This creates a language development that is weakly correlated; meaning that the children cannot easily relate to what they hear or how they can respond to it. Furthermore, the conversations in the television are not directed at the child; the child is rather just a third party and is left out. Children who have grown entirely on television have the tendency of having impaired speech; they can easily comprehend what is being said but it is difficult for them to put express themselves in wording. They tend to segregate themselves from their peers, which further inhibits their interaction. They tend to have low esteem, as other children who are better than they are tend to laugh at them because of their inability to talk fluently. The inhibition of interaction has a very negative effect on the child. Children need each other to learn how to communicate to different categories of people. Children tend to speak jokingly among children in their age bracket but more seriously when speaking to adults. Most of television programming hardly categorizes this and in fact instills a method of communication that has no basis. For instance, a child may be exposed to viewing a program that has violence, characters are shouting and there is a lot of property damage. The child will adopt this in his or her communication and the words from his or her mouth will be fierce and venomous. The child may even break a glass in order to be heard, since he or she observed that breaking things is a form o communication that enables one gain attention.
Television also has developed a way of presenting the so-called children friendly programs like for example cartoons, animations or magic shows. What the producers do is incorporate screen shots that change very fast, special effects, lot of color splashes and so on captivate the young viewer. Such presentation makes it difficult for the child to maintain and focus on some things and they have a feeling of confusion since they cannot understand how some things happen. Another thing is that these programs and even more cartoons have characters that speak loudly and have lot of background noises as well as funny noises in order to attract the child’s attention. The worrying result of these is that children may emulate the characters and speak like them in real life, use bodily language that they have seen on television which adults may not understand, in addition to having problems in maintaining concentration since theirs is mainly controlled by the box. These in long run will affect how the children adapt to the real world language.
In conclusion, television should not be given the role to bring up children, as it tends to impair their language growth. Parents should spend more time with children, teach them how to communicate and introduce them to their language. The children should be allowed to interact with their peers as this helps them learn how to talk better than learning it from television.
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