Let’s Talk Screen Time!
How it may affect your toddler’s speech and language development:
Screens are nearly impossible to avoid in our daily lives, from televisions, phones, tablets and even screens in cars and emerging in public transportation. New research by the Hospital for Sick Children in Ontario launched research findings indicating that children under the age of two spend an average of 28 minutes daily with a handheld device. Strikingly, every 30-minute increase in daily screen time was linked to a 49% increase in expressive language delays (using sounds and words to communicate). The study did not find a link between screen time and social or gesture communication skills.
This new research is just the beginning of more research to come, but supports the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation of limited screen time for toddlers:
- For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen media other than video-chatting.
- Parents of children 18 to 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’re seeing.
- For children ages 2 to 5 years, limit screen use to 1 hour per day of high-quality programs.
- 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.
While the research is out, it can be difficult to avoid screens in our daily life. Here are some tips to make screen time more beneficial for you and your toddler.
- Pick age-appropriate apps or programs. Apps or programs built around daily routines of grooming, playing and eating are easy for toddlers to relate to!
- Play and/or watch together! Make this a special time with your toddler and practice stopping the screen to talk about what is happening and how that might relate to your life.
- Set a timer. It is easy to get caught up in an activity, set a timer for a clear expectation for you and your child to know screen time is over.
- Take videos and pictures of activities you and your child play together, look back at the pictures and talk about the activity!
- Designate non-screen time into your day. The vast majority of your child’s day should be spent interacting with toys, peers, and caregivers to build cognitive, problem solving, positive social-emotional, gross motor, fine motor, and speech and language skills
Jessie Delos Reyes, MA, CCC-SLP
Full research details: