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Last Updated: Monday, 19 April, 2004, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
Watching TV 'aids child speech'
TV is not all bad, says research
Watching television can help small children develop language skills, research suggests.

The National Literacy Trust said TV was not to blame for a perceived lower level of language ability in children.

The trust said parents should not feel guilty about sitting children in front of the TV for some "time out".

The results come as researchers in the United States are warning of the link between watching TV and attention deficit disorder.

At its annual conference, the NLT said watching television - in appropriate circumstances - could help two to five year olds to develop their language skills.

The trust suggests watching the same video repeatedly can help the learning process.

But the NTL urges parents to watch alongside their offspring to give them the opportunity to talk about the content.

It was also important for children to watch programmes aimed at their age group.

What is important is that parents and carers are aware of the pros and cons of TV watching
Liz Attenborough, NLT
Liz Attenborough, manager of the NLT's Talk to Your Baby campaign, said the trust wanted to establish whether television was really to blame for the difficulties in communication many young children have when they start school.

"What we found is that there are many social and cultural factors that have an impact, but that in the right circumstances television may be useful for young children's language development," said Ms Attenborough.

"Television is neither the cause nor the answer to language issues.

"What is important is that parents and carers are aware of the pros and cons of TV watching and maximise the opportunities whilst diminishing potential risks."

Concerns over TV

The NLT research comes two weeks after researchers at the Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Centre in Seattle said children should watch no more than two hours a day.

Each hour in front of the TV increased a child's chances of attention deficit disorder by 10%, their research in the Paediatrics journal showed.

The study of 1,345 children showed three hours TV a day made children 30% more likely to have the disorder.

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