Electronic Devices Said to Cause Speech Delay in Children

A new study shows children who use electronic devices such as smartphones have a 49 percent increased risk of expressive speech delay, according to Time magazine.

The study, conducted at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada, was lead by pediatricians and presented at the annual Pediatric Academic Societies meeting.

The research concluded that out of 900 children between the ages six months and two years old, the ones who had increased amounts of screen time showed delays in expressive speech over the children who had hardly any screen time at all.

For every 30 minutes of screen time a child spent on a device, a 49 percent increased risk of speech delay was noted, however, no other communication skills such as body gestures or physical and social interactions seemed to be at risk.

The study comes at a time when many parents use educational apps on their phones or tablets to keep their children occupied.

But distinguishing between the two-dimensional world the app provides versus the three-dimensional world we live in is something children that young aren’t capable of doing yet.

As a result what they are viewing isn’t always translatable into real life.

Pediatricians express the need for parents to interact with their children during this crucial developmental stage is what helps foster and develop their speaking skills.

Although the intentions behind educational apps are good, there’s no evidence they work when it comes to the development of speech.

Having real life, face-to-face interactions with parents and other family members is what ultimately develops skills such as speaking, emotional response, gestures and social interaction.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not allowing children that young to play on electronic devices. Instead, use good old fashioned human interaction to help their development along.

This may be difficult considering how prominent digital devices are today. In fact, roughly 40 percent of children under the age of two have used a device, according to CNN.

It’s suspected that much of this has to do not only with how common and accessible electronic devices are, but how parents use them as a distraction tool.

Limiting time spent on these devices, if not eliminating them all together, is the main recommendation. And choosing to spend quality time interacting will ultimately move development and speech along.