19 May Speech Delays Linked to Increase Use of Electronic Devices
Our children will be the first generation to grow up with smart devices. To them, taking a picture or accessing the internet on a phone will be as normal to them as flipping a switch to turn on a light. In fact, a study presented to the Pediatric Academic Societies showed that one third of children under the age of 1 have used some device like a smart phone.
As adults, we were not given this technology at such as young age. We don’t know how gaining access to technology at this age is going to affect future generations. We do know, however, that a decrease in meaningful interactions at a young age can lead to speech delays in children.
We also know that the overuse of technology diminishes social interaction. If you don’t believe us, go to any public space and count how many adults have their heads in their phones and are not talking to even the people they went there with. Children acquire language through interactions with their parents and with other children. For children to learn language, language must be spoken to and around them. If everyone in the family is distracted by a smart device and there is no meaningful dialogue taking place in our homes, then more and more children will have difficulties learning to communicate.
Another potential problem is the volume of the devices being placed so close to children’s ears. Hearing loss occurs with repeated or prolonged exposure to loud noises, and some headphones can be cranked up to 110 decibels. For perspective, a typical conversation is usually around 40-60 decibels while an ambulance siren is 120. With the growing use of earbuds it is no wonder, one in five Americans have some sort of hearing loss.
What about your family? Has the dialogue with your children simply become yes-no questions? Are your children’s headphones too loud?
Thankfully, there are some things parents of young children can do to ensure their children develop language skills:
- Talk to your children. If your child is an infant, it’s okay to talk to him like he’s an infant. Just make sure you are using real words when you speak to him.
- Read to your children. Reading your child a story before bed even before they can talk can help promote communication skills and teach children to associate books with good things.
- Limit your child’s access to technology and enforce these limits. You can adjust these limits as your child grows and interests change.
- Limit the use of headphones to one hour a day for older children.