What does the research say about speech development and screen time?
What are some good alternatives to screen time?
- Sing songs or read a book
- Play with your child’s favorite toy
- Color a picture or make a craft project
- Play in the yard, ride bikes, go for a walk or take your child to the park
- Go for a car ride and talk about what you see
- Go to the library and look for books on a topic that interests your child
- Play a board game
- Call up some friends and have a play date
- Cook something in the kitchen together
- Talk to each other
Conclusion and My ThoughtsI should tell you that I use an iPad with kids in my private, pediatric speech therapy practice. There are many, high-quality apps created by speech-language pathologists like myself. I think the key here is the fact that I am facilitating the experience. The child is never engaged one-on-one with the iPad. The child is interacting one-on-one with me, and the iPad is merely a teaching tool. I would be lying if I didn’t agree with the fact that screens are engaging for young children and engagement is a foundation for building language skills. While I would always prefer toys or books for providing language intervention, the reality is that I have to meet kids where they are. When I use my tablet in therapy, I am always talking with the children, and we are using the tablet together to build on or learn a skill. My professional opinion is that you, as a parent or caregiver, should significantly limit the screen time you provide your child. In fact, I think we should probably all significantly reduce our screen time, but I am not sure that is realistic given our technologically-based society. This is particularly true if your child has a language delay. In that case, then I believe your child should have no screen time, at least for a little while. Try cutting out screen time with your child entirely (if you can) for 30 days. See if you notice any changes in their communication. After that, you can reintroduce short amounts of screen time to see if there are any adverse effects. Remember every minute that your child spends in front of a screen is one fewer minute that he/she could spend learning from your interactions or practicing back-and-forth engagement with you.
Playing With Purpose is a great alternative to screen time. Want to learn more?
Start Playing With Purpose
Learn how to purposefully and intentionally interact with your child during play and help them increase opportunities for speech and language development with our Playing with Purpose eBook!