TODAY -

Screen time, an effect on speech and language development

Pinky Sharma *



Children learn to talk and communicate through social interaction i.e. by playing with real objects and having someone look at him/her and talk with him/her.

The first few years of the child’s life are most critical period (birth-4years of age) for child’s speech and language development. At this stage, the child learns about the world through talking, playing, reading books, singing etc.,and in this way the child’s brain registers the connections. A small child’s brain cannot develop without this sense of touch and interaction.

During this period, if the child spend more on screen time ( screen time refers to any time that the child spends with ascreen in front of his or her face, which includes a smart phone, table, computer, hand –held video game device, television, movie theater screen, DVD player in car or anything else with a screen and moving pictures ), the light and noise from electronic screens capture a child’s attention and it becomes difficult for the child to turn to something else i.e. the child becomes distracted by the screen and addicted.

The screen time also isolates the child from human interactions which are necessary for communication skills and language development. Even worse, this can generate painful emotions that the child can barely cope with and these can lead to violent and aggressive behavior in young child.

Research conducted by Dr. Catherine Birken at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and published in May 2017, indicated that by the time children reached their 18-month well visit checkups, 20 percent of the children used mobile devices for 28 minutes on average each day. They found children who spent more time with hand-held screens were more likely to exhibit signs of a delay in expressive speech (how children use their sounds and words, and how they put their words together to communicate).

Additionally, each additional 30 minutes of hand-held screen time was linked to a 49 percent increased risk for an expressive language speech delay. While this study does not prove cause and effect, it does highlight the fact that exposing children to too much screen time will impact their expressive speech.

Another study published by Chonchaiya and Pruksananonda found that children who began watching television before 12 months and who watched more than 2 hours of TV per day were six times more likely to have language delays. In October 2016, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) released a new screen time recommendations for young children.

Their recommendations are:
Children younger than 18 months of age: Avoid the use of any screen media except video chatting (with grandparents).
Children ages 18 months to 24 months: Parents who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programs or apps, but use them together with your children to create a dialog about what they are seeing and how it relates to the world around them.
Children ages 2 to 5 years: Limit screen time to one hour a day of high-quality programs that you view with your children.
Children ages 6 years and older: Place consistent limits on time spent using media, the types of media and make sure that the use of media does not take the place of sleeping, exercise, and other healthy behaviors.

# Spent quality time with your children and say no to screens in their early years.
##Prevention is better than Cure. #


* Pinky Sharma wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a lecturer in Audiology, RIMS and can be reached at pinky(DOT)sh(DOT)dv(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on February 01, 2019.



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