Nowadays, the negative effects of use and screen time on our children are a serious problem, and researchers have recently found that handheld screen time is linked to delayed speech development.
Namely, the study that was published in August 2017 by staff pediatrician and scientist at The Hospital for Sick Child (SickKids) Catherine Birken and her team in the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Leader examined 894 children between the ages of 6 months to 2-years-old for four years.
According to Dr. Catherine Birken, MD, MSc, FRCPC, the study’s principal investigator and a staff pediatrician and scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids):
“Handheld devices are everywhere these days. While new pediatric guidelines suggest limiting screen time for babies and toddlers, we believe that the use of smartphones and tablets with young children has become quite common. This is the first study to report an association between handheld screen time and increased risk of expressive language delay.”
The team examined the effects of handheld screens on their ability to talk, and after about a year and a half, it concluded:
“The more handheld screen time a child’s parent reported, the more likely the child was to have expressive speech delays.”
By the end of the study, researchers found that with every 30-minute increase in handheld screen time, children’s risk of expressive speech delay elevated by 49 percent. Therefore, they supported the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recent media use policy: avoid the use of screen media other than for video-chatting for children younger than 18 months.
Moreover, according to Sue Palmer, the author of “Toxic Childhood: How the Modern World Is Damaging Our Children and What We Can Do About It”, parents use their tablet computers as pacifiers.
“Sadly, we’re seeing the rise of the ‘techno-tot’ for whom iPads have become the modern-day equivalent of a comfort blanket.”
However, there are also parents who maintain that their iPads have helped their children read and speak better, so it does not necessarily mean your child will experience only the side-effects of these devices.
Technology usage offers a myriad of benefits as well, but always keep in mind that you should be careful with the use of such devices when the children are still developing.
These are the recommendations by The Australian Department of Health:
“Children younger than 2 years of age should not spend any time watching television or using other electronic media (DVDs, computer and other electronic games).
For children 2 to 5 years of age, sitting and watching television and the use of other electronic media (DVDs, computer and electronic games) should be limited to less than 1 hour per day.”
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