Technology is everywhere in our world. It invades every area of life and can easily distract and entertain individuals of all ages, especially our little ones. Did you know there is research linking excessive screen time to expressive speech delays in young children? Expressive speech is using words to create phrases and sentences to convey meaning. Expressive speech development is important because it allows a child to express their wants, needs, feelings, thoughts etc. and engage in meaningful interactions with others.
Dr. Catherine Birkin completed a research study finding at a child’s 18 month doctor visit, 20% of parents reported their child’s average daily use of a handheld device was 28 minutes. This same study found that for each 30 minute increase in handheld screen time, a child’s risk for expressive speech delay increased by 49%.
If you are wondering whether your child needs to reduce screen time use, the below guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics offer helpful tips:
For children younger than 18 months, avoid the use of screen media other than video chatting. Parents of children 18-24 months of age who want to introduce digital media should choose high-quality programming, and watch it with their children to help them understand what they are seeing.
For children ages, 2-5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs. Parents should co-view media with children to help them understand what they are seeing and apply it to the world around them.
For children ages 6 and older, place consistent limits on the time spent using media, and the types of media, and make sure media does not take the place of adequate sleep, physical activity, and other behaviors essential to health.
Designate media-free times together, such as dinner or driving, as well as media-free locations at home, such as bedrooms.
Have ongoing communication about online citizenship and safety, including treating others with respect online and offline.
There are so many fun activities you can do with your child to reduce the use of screen time in your home. Here is a list to get you started:
Board games and puzzles
Pretend play-play food, baby dolls, cars/trucks
Finger painting and art projects
Activity bags- fill a bag with stickers, play doh, crayons, and coloring pages to for your child to play with while you make dinner or an important phone call etc.