In the old days, watching TV and using the computer used to be the only screen time we had. However, with the advancement of technology, screen time is now easily accessed anywhere and anytime (e.g. iPads and iPhones). The advancement of technology has its perks. We all know that there are moments where the household is so crazy that giving our child the iPad/tablet or phone gives us sanity and time to get organised. What’s tricky is finding the right balance between having sanity but also ensuring we are allowing our child to continue to develop their speech and language skills.
So you might ask, how does screen time affect language/speech development?
Here’s something to look out for, the next time your child is watching/playing games on the iPad or phone, see if they talk. The chances are while the child is engaged in the screen time he/she doesn’t really talk. So screen time = I Don’t Talk.
A 2017 study discovered that children who have not yet started talking were found to have a 49% higher risk of language delay if they spent even 30 minutes per day on a device.
The following screen times are recommended:
Children younger than 18 months
- No screening time
18 to 24 months
- Can introduce digital media, however the content must be high-quality (e.g. Sesame Street or Play School).
- Use and watch the media together with the child and help them understand what they’re seeing (e.g. Oh look this is a giraffe and it has a very long neck, etc.).
2 to 5 years
- Under 1 hour per day of high quality programs.
So what should you take from all of this information?
If your child is over 18 months of age, it is okay to occasionally use devices to help you with your chaotic day. However, it is important to think about the quality of the content provided and when you are able to make sure you sit and watch the media together to provide opportunities to increase your child’s vocabulary and language.
American Academy of Pediatrics (2017). Handheld Screen Time Linked with Speech Delays in Young Children. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Handheld-Screen-Time-Linked-with-SpeechDelays-in-Young-Children.aspx
American Academy of Pediatrics (2017). American Academy of Pediatrics Announces New Recommendations for Children’s Media Use. Retrieved from https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/pages/americanacademy-of-pediatrics-announces-new-recommendations-for-childrens-media-use.aspx