As mothers, we want the best for our kids. So when you realize that your toddler might be having delays in speech, it’s completely normal to panic. While it’s not unusual to feel helpless, you can still take charge of the situation. It’s important to look around you and find out the causes of this speech delay in your baby. Well, according to paediatricians, too much TV might be the cause for speech delays in your toddler.
How Does the TV Cause Speech Delays?
The first several years of life are crucial for any child’s language development. It is during this time that kids learn basic communication with the people around them. They learn to talk and communicate through interactions with other people. That’s the way it has always been and that’s the way it will continue to be, despite any new technology that comes our way.
Conversation, not listening to stories or watching TV, has the strongest positive effect on early language development. Toddlers learn to talk much faster when you hold conversations with them and allow them to react and talk back to you. This is because language is not only learnt by talking but by reading body language such as smiling, shaking your head etc. The TV doesn’t allow the toddler to talk back or react, it just goes and on.
Turns out it’s not just the TV, but screen time in general
Any time that your toddler spends in front of a screen can lead to speech delays. That includes the TV, movie theatre screens, smartphones, tablets, computers, hand-held video game device, DVD player in the car, or anything else with a screen and moving pictures. It doesn’t matter if your child is watching an educational video or playing a game, screen time is screen time and it will greatly impact speech in your toodler.
So what about those YouTube videos that are supposed to teach your child vocabulary, or sign language, or to read?
Yes, vocabulary and reading are important parts of communication, but they are a very small part of a much bigger picture. Communication is about interacting with others, the give and take.
Find a balance between screen time an actually interacting with your child through talking. It could help to enrol your toddler in playschool so that he/she gets to interact with other kids. Alternatively, if you have a nanny or someone taking care of your child, make them understand that your child should not be exposed to too much screen time.
So what do I do? How much is too much??
If your child is already experiencing speech delays, try cutting out TV time with your child entirely (if you can) for 30 days. See if you notice any changes in his communication. After that, you can reintroduce short amounts of screen time to see if there are any adverse effects.
But in my opinion, your toddler should not be exposed to the TV or any other screen for that matter for more than 2 hours. Keep screen time to a minimum!
What can you do with your child instead of watching TV?
Try some of these alternatives to screen time that is way better for your child’s development and will help you build a better relationship with your child as well. Keep in mind it’s important for you to put away your screens when you interact with your child as well. Put away your smartphone!
- Talk with your child. If your child is only giving you one-word responses, try asking more specific questions (like “who did you eat lunch with”) instead of open-ended questions (like “how was your day?”).
- Sing songs
- Read a book
- Colour a picture
- Go for a walk
- Take your child to a park
- Go for a car ride and talk about what you see
- Call up some friends and have a play date
- Cook something in the kitchen together