Kids learnt less words with more screen exposure during pandemic: Study

The rapid spread of Covid-19 pandemic, has since two years, led to lockdowns and closure of schools in many countries, affecting children’s education the most.

International research team investigated the impact of lockdown measures on 2,200 infants between 8 and 36 months across 13 countries in two studies.

The findings showed that, during lockdown, children who were read to more frequently were reported by their caregivers to have learned more words, relative to their peers who were read to less frequently.

However, children with increased exposure to screens learned to say fewer words, relative to their peers with less screen time.

“Identifying the effects of parent-child activities on the child’s vocabulary growth is a significant finding, given that we assessed changes in children’s vocabularies over an average period of just over one month in our study,” says Professor Julien Mayor, University of Oslo.

The team published their findings in the journal Language Development Research.

The second study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, showed that while children were exposed to more screen time during lockdown than before, overall, children were reported to have gained more words than expected during lockdown, relative to pre-pandemic levels.

This is potentially due to other activities that parents undertook with their children during lockdown

“Allowing your child increased screen time is an understandable solution to this unprecedented situation, in which caregivers were juggling multiple responsibilities — meetings at work or chores that require concentration, together with a small child who needs entertainment. We’ve all done it during lockdown,” said Professor Nivedita Mani, University of Gottingen.

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