Preschoolers who have a TV in their bedroom and are exposed to more background TV have a weaker understanding of other people's beliefs and desires, revealed a new study.
Researchers at the Ohio State University retrieved information from 107 children and their parents to determine the relationship between preschoolers' television exposure and their understanding of mental states such as beliefs, intentions, and feelings, known as theory of mind.
Parents were asked to report how many hours of TV their children were exposed to, including background TV. Thereafter, the children were then given tasks based on theory of mind, which assessed whether the children could acknowledge that others can have different beliefs and desires and that behaviours stem from beliefs.
They found that children who had TV in their rooms or were exposed to more background TV had a weaker understanding of mental states, even after accounting for differences in performance based on age and the socioeconomic status of the parent. Children with more developed theories of mind are better able to participate in social relationships. These children can engage in more sensitive, cooperative interactions with other children and are less likely to resort to aggression as a means of achieving goals.
The study is published in the Journal of Communication.
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