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Study reports videos can help teach communication skills to infants

Posted:  Tuesday, February 03, 2015

A recent study conducted by American researchers found that like adults, infants might share the love for videos. Children under 2 years of age can also learn certain communication skills from videos and not just from parental teaching.

These findings contradict previously held beliefs that learning from videos in children under the age of 2 years is less robust compared to the traditional forms of parental teaching. These encouraging results are published in the journal Child Development.

This 4 week study included ninety two 15-month-old children and their parents from the metro Atlanta area. They were assigned to 4 groups, namely video with parent, video only, parent instruction only and control.

Infants participating in the study, many of whom could not yet speak, were shown an instructional video for 15 minutes, 4 times per week, for 3 weeks. The video featured signs of common objects such as shoe, hat, airplane, fish and cookie. These infants were then subsequently shown pictures of the objects and were asked to select the picture based on a sign produced by the researcher.

The researchers found that infants who watched the video with parents performed similarly to those who watched the video unsupervised. Also, infants who watched the video performed similarly to infants who received parental instruction. Infants in the control group fared poorly because they were not shown a video or given parental training. After a week, the infants given video coaching were able to recall the pictures and their corresponding signs and even produce the signs themselves from memory.

“This is the first controlled study to show that babies as young as 15 months can learn communicative skills from commercial videos just as well as from parents,” said the researchers. Though encouraging, the researchers do not recommend exposing infants to videos as a means for learning. Instead, such videos could be used as an effective training tool for children at an appropriate age and under the right circumstances.

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