To iPad or not to iPad?
The effects of screen time on language development

Children’s language development is shaped by their environment e.g. talking with their family and friends. However, nowadays children are growing up in the digital age where screens are everywhere! 

Overexposure to traditional and passive media use, such as watching TV, has been associated with:
– obesity 

– sleep problems

– behavior concerns e.g. aggression

– difficulties with attention and concentration


Today, children and teenagers are spending a large amount of time using new technology such as smartphones and iPads, and are often engaged in two screens at once!

TV and tablet screens do not offer the same real world experiences as traditional toys such as building with blocks. For some children, by the time they have graduated from high school, they will have spent more time in front of a screen than in the classroom.

So what does this mean for language development? Studies have shown that children who frequently just watch screens (passively) are more likely to have reduced language and social development. 

Change for the better! Make screen time interactive! 

Follow these recommendations:

  • Ensure the program or game is educational and age appropriate
  • Talk about what you’re watching/playing as it’s happening
  • Relate what they have seen to real word experiences
  • Reflect on actions and feelings
  • Have fun!

Children who frequently talked with their parents/siblings/friends about what they watched and played showed they had improvements in these areas:

  • Vocabulary
  • Understanding
  • Attention
  • Parent/child relationship
  • Social Skills

Laura Irvine | Speech Pathologist