What to do when… you’re not sure how to talk to your young child about media

Boston Children's Digital Wellness Lab
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Babies aren’t great at conversation, so it can sometimes feel awkward trying to talk to them about a TV show, movie, or game. We’re used to the back and forth we get from other adults or older children, so it’s normal to feel strange having a one-sided conversation with your baby. But these are important conversations that teach your child how to talk, build their vocabulary, and engage their emotions.

Here are some ways to engage with your young child about the things they are seeing on screens:

Reference the characters in the TV show and simple things about them.

  • “Look at that bright sweater Dora is wearing!”
  • “Oscar the Grouch sure looks angry right now.”
  • “Chase is having fun driving that car!”

Ask and answer questions for your pre-verbal child.

  • “I wonder why Peppa got so upset. I bet it’s because she didn’t get to play with the toy she wanted.”
  • “Daniel Tiger is trying to decide what to do next. I think he should tell Katerina he’s sorry.”
  • “We have a pet dog and Elmo has a pet fish! I wonder if he has to walk his fish too?”

Tell your child how you feel about the show you’re watching together.

  • “I am so proud of Elena for helping her sister.”
  • “I felt so happy when Tiny found her missing toy. I lost a toy once and that made me sad.”
  • “That was so exciting when Blaze turned into an airplane!”


Ramírez-Esparza, N., García-Sierra, A., & Kuhl, P.K. (2017). Look who’s talking NOW! Parentese speech, social context, and language development across time. Frontiers in Psychology, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01008
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