Ld when Toddlers Turn on the tv and Actually Learn

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When Toddlers Turn on the TV and Actually Learn
By: Lisa Guernsey, Adapted from: New York Times, September 5, 2006

1. Sit down with a 3-year-old to watch “Blue’s Clues” or “Dora the Explorer,” and see the shouting erupt. Whenever a character faces the camera and asks a question, children out there in TV land are usually answering it. Active engagement with television has been an answer to criticism that TV creates zombies. “Blue’s Clues,” which celebrated its 10th anniversary last month, has been credited with helping young children learn from the screen. Indeed, academic research has shown that viewers ages three to five score better on tests of problem solving than those who haven’t watched the show.
2. But what happens with children younger than three years old? Should babies and toddlers be exposed to television at all? Is there any chance that they could actually learn from the screen? While debates continue among parents, pediatricians, and critics of baby videos, developmental psychologists are conducting research to find answers to these questions.
1. Why does the writer mention the example of “Blue’s Clues”?

The writer mentions “Blue’s Clues” because it is an example of a TV show that:

a. has been around for the past 10 years

b. interactively involves young viewers

c. creates passive zombies

d. causes young children to shout

2. Which children were able to solve problems better?


3. Read paragraph 2. Based on this paragraph, how do you expect the writer to answer the questions?

a. by explaining the opinions of various educators

b. by comparing different educational TV shows

c. by presenting evidence from research

d. by giving examples of children who learned from TV

3. Experiments conducted at Vanderbilt University, described in the May/June issue of Child Development, provide some information about toddlers. Georgene L. Troseth and Megan M. Saylor, psychologists at Vanderbilt, and Allison H. Archer, an undergraduate student there, designed the study to find out if toddlers would learn from video if they considered the onscreen actors to be, as they put it, “social partners.”
4. The experiments compared two video experiences. One was based on a videotape. Watching it was similar to watching “Blue’s Clues”; the actor onscreen paused to simulate a conversation, but back-and-forth interaction with the viewer was impossible. A different group of children experienced two-way live video. It worked like a Web cam, with each side responding in real time.
5. The test involved a hiding game. First the two-year-olds watched the video — either the tape or the live version. The screen showed a person hiding a stuffed animal, Piglet, in a nearby room, often under a table or behind a couch. When the video ended, the children were asked to retrieve Piglet. Those who saw the recorded video had some trouble. They found him only 35 percent of the time. Children in the other group succeeded about 69 percent of the time, a rate similar to face-to-face interaction.
6. This experiment shows that 24-month-olds are more likely to use information conveyed by video if they consider the person on the screen to be someone they can talk to. Without that, the children seemed unable to act on what they had seen and heard.


4. Read paragraphs 3-6 to fill in the table below about the study at Vanderbilt University.

I. Research Question

II. Methods

A. Participants

Group 1: __________________________________________


Group 2: __________________________________________


B. Procedure

Step 1: The children had a video experience.

Step 2: The children _________________________________

III. Results

Group 1 was BETTER / WORSE than group 2.

IV. Conclusion

Children learn better from videos when __________________



7. Does this mean that TV programs that simulate interaction are doing nothing for young children? Not necessarily, the researchers say. A few of the children in the recorded video group were especially responsive to the games and pauses, and they were the few children in that group who retrieved the toy. “We found that if children gave evidence of treating the video as a social partner,” Dr. Troseth said, “they will use the information.”
8. Developmental psychologists say the Vanderbilt research offers an intriguing clue to a phenomenon called the “video deficit.” Toddlers who have no trouble understanding a task demonstrated in real life often have problems when the same task is shown onscreen. They need repeated viewings to figure it out. This deficit got its name in a 2005 article by Daniel R. Anderson and Tiffany A. Pempek, psychologists at the University of Massachusetts, who reviewed literature on young children and television. Child-development experts say the deficit confirms the age-old wisdom that real-life interactions are best for babies. Parents can be assured, they say, that their presence is more beneficial than TV.
9. But psychologists still want to get to the bottom of what might explain the difference. Is it the two-dimensionality of the screen? Do young children have some innate difficulty in remembering information transmitted as symbols? “It’s definitely still a puzzle, and we’re trying to figure out the different components to it,” said Rachel Barr, a psychologist at Georgetown University who specializes in infant memory.
10. The Vanderbilt research offers the possibility that the more socially engaging a video is, the more likely the deficit will disappear. But Dr. Troseth and other psychologists stress that in-person connections with parents are by far a child’s best teacher. However, this probably doesn’t include those moments when busy and tired parents are so distracted that TV characters are more responsive than they are.

5. (par. 7) According to the article, can TV programs that simulate interaction be useful?


Explain your answer.

6. a. What is the “video deficit”?

___________________________________________________________b. Do researchers have a clear explanation for this phenomenon?


Justify your answer by quoting from the text.


7. In paragraph 9 the author says that “psychologists still want to get to the bottom of what might explain the difference.”

What difference is the author referring to? (Fill in the blanks to answer.)

The difference between _________________ and _________________.

8. Under what condition might the video deficit disappear? (2 WORDS)

When the video is ___________________________________.


Exercises adapted from Dr. Ayelet Sasson

When Toddlers Turn on the TV and Actually Learn – Exercises
I. Pre-reading

“Blue’s Clues” “Dora the Explorer”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybwg_Z9kFwA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-RtzHO-XHI&feature=related
A. Watch the first 2-3 minutes of the shows above. Then discuss the following questions.

1. What does the show teach children?

2. How does the show engage the children? What interactive elements does the show have?
B. Discuss the following questions:.

1. Is television good for kids?

2. Are some TV shows better than others?

3. What is a good TV show for kids? What are its characteristics?

When Toddlers Turn on the TV and Actually Learn – Vocabulary
Find and underline the following words in the text.


Also in par. #


Also in par. #

Paragraph 1

Paragraph 7

1. engagement (n.)

engaging (adj.)


7. pause (v., n.)

engage (v.)

2. criticism (n.)

Paragraph 8

critic (n.)

criticize (v.)


11. deficit (n.)

deficient (adj.)

3. viewer (n.)

6, 11

12. confirm (v.)

viewing (n.)

view (v.)


13. presence (n.)

present (adj.)

4. score (v., n.)

Paragraph 9

Paragraph 2

14. innate (adj.)

5. debate (n., v.)

Paragraph 10

Paragraph 5

15. likely (adj.)

8. retrieve (v.)

16. stress (v.,n.)

9. recorded (adj., v.)

record (n.)

10. rate (n., v.)

rating (n.)

Exercise 1: Cloze

Fill in the empty blanks in the following sentences by using the words in the list below:











1. The analysis _________________________ the researchers’ hypothesis.

2. There has been a long _________________________ in the literature regarding the influence of age on second language learning.
3. Advertisements attempt to catch the attention of _________________________

in any way that they can.

4. Women are more _________________________ to perform multiple tasks simultaneously than men.
5. The _________________________ of the musician’s family and friends in the room increased his anxiety about the performance.
6. Recently, the government has _________________________ the importance of wearing seat belts in order to decrease the _________________________ of fatalities in car accidents.
7. The teacher used video clips to increase the students’ _____________________ in the lesson.
8. The worker’s _________________________ of the company’s new vacation policy were ignored by the management.
9. The students who _________________________ well on the final exam were excited.

Exercise 2: Sentence Completion

The words in bold print are from the text. Use your knowledge of their meanings to complete the sentences below in your own words.
1. The royal wedding attracted millions of viewers because ___________________


2. The girls went back to the party to retrieve ______________________________

3. Due to Bob’s memory deficit, which was caused by a car accident, he had difficulty in ________________________________________________________

4. The speaker paused in order to _______________________________________

5. The children recorded a song for their mother’s birthday, but ________________


6. Whereas some people believe that intelligence is innate, others think that ________________________________________________________________

7. People are likely to succeed in life if they _______________________________


Exercise 3: Different Meanings of “RATE”
The word “rate” has several possible meanings:
a. [NOUN] the number of times something happens (שיעור)

b. [NOUN] the speed that something happens over a period of time (קצב)

c. [VERB] to measure something on a scale (לדרג)
In each sentence below, write the letter of the correct meaning of “rate.”
1. People of different ages learn languages at different rates. _________

2. The song became a big hit because people rated it number one on a hit list. _________

3. Due to the economic crisis, the crime rate increased. _________

Post-reading Activity
Baby Einsteins: Not So Smart After All

Adapted from: Alice Park, Time Magazine, Monday, Aug. 06, 2007

1. The claim always seemed too good to be true: put your infant in front of a video and, in no time, he or she will be talking and getting smarter than the neighbor's kid. However, in the latest study on the effects of popular videos such as the "Baby Einstein" and "Brainy Baby" series, researchers find that these products may be doing more harm than good. And they may actually delay language development in toddlers.
2. Led by Frederick Zimmerman and Dr. Dimitri Christakis, both at the University of Washington, the research team found that with every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants learned six to eight fewer new vocabulary words than babies who never watched the videos. These products had the strongest detrimental effect on babies 8 to 16 months old, the age at which language skills are starting to form. "The more videos they watched, the fewer words they knew," says Christakis. "These babies scored about 10% lower on language skills than infants who had not watched these videos."
3. It's not the first blow to baby videos, and likely won't be the last. Increasing evidence suggests that passive TV viewing not only doesn't help children learn, but could also set back their development. Last spring, Christakis and his colleagues found that by three months, 40% of babies are regular viewers of DVDs, videos or television; by the time they are two years old, almost 90% are spending two to three hours each day in front of a screen. Three studies have shown that watching television, even if it includes educational programming such as Sesame Street, delays language development. "Babies require face-to-face interaction to learn," says Dr. Vic Strasburger, professor of pediatrics at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. "They don't get that interaction from watching TV or videos. In fact, the watching probably interferes with the crucial early development of their brains. Previous studies have shown, for example, that babies learn faster and better from a native speaker of a language when they are interacting with that speaker instead of watching the same speaker talk on a video screen. "Even watching a live person speak to you via television is not the same thing as having that person in front of you," says Christakis.
4. This growing evidence led the Academy to issue its recommendation in 1999 that no child under two years old watch any television. The authors of the new study might suggest reading instead: children who got daily reading or storytelling time with their parents showed a slight increase in language skills.
5. Though the popular baby videos and DVDs in the Washington study were designed to stimulate infants' brains, not necessarily to promote language development, parents generally assume that the products' promises to make their babies smarter include improvement of speaking skills. But, says Christakis, "the majority of the videos don't try to promote language; they have rapid scene changes and no appearance of the 'parent-ese' type of speaking that parents use when talking to their babies."
6. As far as Christakis and his colleagues can determine, the only thing that baby videos are doing is producing a generation of overstimulated kids. "There is an assumption that stimulation is good, so more is better," he says. "But that's not true; there is such a thing as overstimulation." His group has found that the more television children watch, the shorter their attention spans later in life. "Their minds come to expect a high level of stimulation, and view that as normal," says Christakis, "and by comparison, reality is boring."
7. He and other experts worry that these products will continue to displace the one thing that babies need in the first months of life — face time with human beings. "Every interaction with your child is meaningful," says Christakis. "Time is precious in those early years, and the newborn is watching you, and learning from everything you do." So just talk to them; they're listening.

1. According to this article, what aspect of child development is particularly affected by early exposure to TV?

a. language capacity

b. social skills

c. intellectual ability

d. relationships with parents

2. In general, does this article express a similar or different view to the article “When Toddlers Turn on the TV and Actually Learn”?

Explain your answer.




3. Are the conclusions of both articles similar or different?


Explain your answer.





4. Which article do you agree with?
Explain your position.






When Toddlers Turn on the TV and Actually Learn/

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