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Do smartphones and tablets have a negative impact on our children?
Nowadays, the number of smartphones, tablets and portable game consoles (handhelds) is increasing massively. Due to this effect, more and more small children come into contact with these devices at an early stage. Researchers have now found that using such devices in early childhood poses an increased risk of speech delays.
The University of Toronto researchers found that using tablets and smartphones can cause speech delay in young children. The doctors published a press release on the results of their study, which were also presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting.
Experts examine 894 subjects for their study
For their study, the researchers examined a total of 894 children between the ages of six months and two years between 2011 and 2015. Various examinations were carried out regularly on the test subjects. The experts found that around 20 percent of the children used tablets or similar devices on average for 28 minutes a day. The more time the children spent in front of the screens, the more likely it was that the development of the language would be delayed, the researchers say.
How much an additional 30 minutes in front of the screen increase the risk of speech delays?
For every 30 minutes increase in screen time, the researchers confirmed a 49 percent increased risk of speech delay. However, there was no obvious connection between screen time and other communication delays such as social interactions, body language or gestures, the authors explain.
More and more small children come into contact with smartphones and tablets
Portable devices such as smartphones and tablets are widespread these days. New pediatric guidelines advise that a limitation of the screen time should be observed, especially for babies and toddlers. The use of tablets and smartphones in young children is now quite common, say the experts. The current study was the first to examine the association between screen time and the risk of speech delay.
More research is needed
The results of the investigation support a current recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics. This says that any kind of so-called screen media should be avoided in children under the age of 18 months. However, further research is needed to better understand the nature and content of screen activities and their impact on language development, the authors explain. In addition, other influences must also be taken into account, such as the use of tablets and smartphones by parents and the shared use of the devices by parents and young children. Only by taking all of these factors into account can the long-term influence on communication results in early childhood be understood, the doctors say. (as)