Replace your childrens tech time with talk time

By: 
Community

With new data showing that a majority of speech-language pathologists say children’s preoccupation with today’s personal technology is qualitatively different from past generations’ distractions of choice, such as television — with greater potential for harm — Newcastle based speech language pathologist Mary Alice Petersen urges parents to implement some basic tech rules in their households to make time for verbal communication. 

This advice is especially timely given that May is Better Hearing and Speech Month.  

Among the top concerns for surveyed speech-language pathologists is that excessive technology use by children is replacing conversation and human interaction. 

The most basic of activities, such as conversation and interaction, is essential to children’s speech and language development as well as future academic and social success.  

Unfortunately, the availability and convenience of tablets and other kid friendly devices may be supplanting time for talking, reading, and interactive play.  

This is where the concerns to communication development come into play.

“A trip to the supermarket, downtime in a doctor’s waiting room, or a ride in the car are ideal times to point out new objects, ask your child questions, and generally converse — all of which contribute to children’s speech and language development,” said speech-language pathologist Debra Doeksen-Gould.  

It’s important that parents stay mindful of these learning opportunities, and not allow tech time to encroach on such daily opportunities — tempting as it may be to keep a child occupied.  

Even if a child is playing an “educational” game on a device, nothing replaces what is learned through person-to-person communication.

Maintain. a realistic approach. A vast majority of speech-language pathologists (73%) say the solution to children’s tech overuse is to encourage parents to set reasonable parameters and model safe technology usage at home. A very small number (2%) advocate for tightly restricting children’s technology usage.

“We know that technology is here to stay, but consider when you can carve some dedicated tech-free time each day,” speech-language pathologist Nicole Jordan added.  In addition to implementing basic tech measures, Nicole asks parents, especially those of young children, to use May as a time to assess their children’s communication development and familiarize themselves with the signs of speech/language disorders.  

These are among the most common conditions young children experience, and they are highly treatable. However, it is important that parents not delay should they have concerns.

“Some parents may not take action about speech delay until a child is 3 or older, even though they may have concerns for a year or longer at that point,” Mary Alice Petersen said.  

Any parents with a concern should seek a screening at the Weston County Children’s Center by calling 307-746-3541 and speaking to Lynne Davis or Julie Hodge.  

For more information about communication milestones, visit http://identifythe signs.org.

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