Screen Time and Its Effect on Toddlers

Stay up to date with the latest speech pathology tips and trends

Toddlers can be very busy little people, and in the ‘modern day’ parents have found a solution to their woes of keeping their little ones distracted at the drop of a hat. Phones and iPads are often seen to replace books, colouring, toys or conversation in doctors’ waiting rooms, at restaurant tables or while mum and dad are cooking dinner. But what kind of impact is this extra screen time having on our children’s language development?

According to new research, extra screen time is potentially impacting our little ones’ language development, and putting them at higher risk of expressive language delays. Expressive language refers to the words and sentences our child can produce to express themselves. The new study found that there is a direct link between more screen time and a higher risk of expressive language difficulties. As little as 30 extra minutes on a device can increase this risk by as much as 49%!

So what does that mean for parents?

  • Limit the screen time your children have. This may mean you need to draw up some guidelines and rules. Toddlers under the age of 2 should not be exposed to screens at all, and it is recommended that screen time for toddlers up to the age of 5 be limited to a maximum of 1 hour per day.
  • Make screen time count. If you do allow your little one to have access to devices for some time during the day, make sure this is supplemented with you talking to them about what’s happening. Use it as a basis for imaginary play. Overall, make sure you create opportunities for communication out of the screen time.
  • Put your thinking cap on. Sometimes screens seem like the easiest option, but is there something else that will keep your little one occupied? Other activities like colouring, drawing and building can be completed by a toddler on their own, and they can show you their creations when they are done. If you are at home you could also put some music on to sing and dance to – something you could join in on in the kitchen if you’re cooking up a storm!

If you are concerned with your little one’s expressive language, feel free to contact us for an appointment.