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Screen Time is Scary

This year, we’ve been on a journey that has taken us part way through language development, mostly from infancy to toddlerhood. There are amazing things happening in our brains during these formative years. But I wanted to take a pause this month to talk about something not so good that can happen. Something I and many others like me have seen happening in households around the world that is quite alarming and easily preventable.

Screen time affects children’s development negatively. There’s really no other way to say it. It started happening way before the pandemic with the advent of smart phones and tablets. The more screen time a child has access to, the higher the chance their development in several domains is going to be affected negatively.

First, it was the study out of Sick Kids. Then, more recently, it’s a study out of Japan with a staggering number of participants (over 7000 families!) that showed a scary connection between screen time and kids’ communication and global development at ages two and four. These studies prove what we Speech-Pathologists have suspected all along and see on a daily basis when we assess toddlers: More likely than not, the toddler we see for speech delay is receiving screen time that is more than what is recommended for their age. Alarmingly more.

We can make a pretty educated guess as to how screen time affects children’s development: Screen time takes away from opportunities for kids to interact with people. In previous articles, we discussed how important it is that we interact with our babies to optimize their development. Screen time takes away from that interaction. 

But it’s not just kids’ screen time get that affects them… parent and caregiver screen time also affects their kids’ development. Stay tuned for next month’s thoughts, as your Friendly Neighbourhood Speech Pathologist talks more about this very important topic and how to find ways for everyone to safely enjoy screens for the sake of their children’s development. 


Mohamed (Mo) Oshalla, MHSc.,
Speech-Language Pathologist & Executive Director,
Ontario Speech & Language Services


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