Study: Screen Time Makes Toddlers Miss Out On 200 Conversations A Day

child at laptop

A new study published in a pediatrics journal this week quantifies just how negative the impact of screen time can be for toddlers.

According to the newly-published research, each day, screen time robs children of hearing 1,000 words spoken by adults and almost 200 conversations.

The study was done by tracking 220 Australian families, who were recorded at home, when children were 12, 18, 24, 30, and 36 months of age. 

To see how screen use impacts their family and children, the researchers used a technology called Language Environment Analysis (LENA). Through it, they recorded families for an average of 16 hours a day, and researchers manually calculated screen time based on LENA’s electronic noise audio segments.

As even child-free people know, using language as early as possible in the life of a child is essential to their wellbeing and development. However, thanks to the proliferation of smart devices and our increased reliance on phones and tablets, a phenomenon called ‘technoference’ is unfortunately developing.

“The phenomenon coined “technoference” (technology-based interference) suggests that parents’ time using screen-based devices interferes with daily opportunities to talk and respond to their child.19 A recent systematic review demonstrated that parental smartphone use was negatively associated with parental responsiveness and attention toward their children aged 3 years or younger.17 Another systematic review investigating parental use of mobile computing devices and the social and emotional development of children aged 10 years or younger found less engagement, harsher responses, and fewer verbal and nonverbal communications between parents and children when parents were using a mobile device,” write the researchers who published this study.

Now, thanks to them, we can also attach a number to those missing words: 1,139 fewer adult words, 843 fewer child words and 194 fewer conversations.

Is it a little? Is it a lot? I think each parent has to decide for themselves.

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