The UK’s first Communication Champion for kids thinks that long car rides are the perfect chance for children to “double their vocabulary,” but that the proliferation of in-car entertainment devices like games and DVD players, if enacted during a trip, eliminate any chance for growth.
Jean Gross issued the warning, stating that kids from affluent families, who were more likely to be able to outfit their cars with the electronic devices in question, were more at risk.
I remember [when my children were little] we did spotting games in the car, but with the Nintendo DS and other hand-held video games it's going to be more affluent parents whose children have problems learning to speak, not just those from poorer homes who have less exposure to a wide range of language.
For once we are inclined to agree: while portable entertainment offers parents the chance to drive nag-free for relatively long periods of time (worth its weight in gold at times), we always imagine a car full of kids zipping by the Grand Canyon (for instance), watching Shrek in the back of a Dodge Caravan and blissfully unaware of their surroundings.
Illustration by Kevin Spear