Hey there!! I know that the AAP recommends no screen time for the first couple years of life. Someone told me that the more television watching a child does, the more likely that child is to have a speech delay. Is this true?
I am not sure if watching more television will cause a speech delay because it is hard to show the difference between correlation and causation. However, here is what the research is telling us. Large amounts of television and screen time IS changing the brain and can impact social development. A child (and adults) brains are constantly changing due to different experiences and new experiences that we are having. When we spend too much time on screens we are not spending time on face to face interactions or on tasks where you have to use the whole body together. When we skip screens and do spend time interacting face to face or physically playing some skills we are developing include:
social problem solving, self emotional regulation, communicating back and forth, hearing and practicing correct speech and language productions, executive functioning skills like planning, organizing, time management, developing judgements, controlling impulses, and switching attention.
Too much screen time has shown to increase a “feel good” chemical in the brain called dopamine. The more dopamine your brain gets the more you want it. Therefore the more screen time you may crave. This also makes other physical games not as exciting because the same levels of dopamine are not produced in the brain. Screen time has also been linked to increased adrenaline in the brain causing us to physically be in “fight and flight” mode longer which does not allow for us to problem solve information.
However, as a mom myself I know it is hard to just give up screen time. Make sure to set boundaries on how much time and what type of shows or activities the child is doing. If possible watch with your child so they also get a communicative interaction while watching. I also like to replace screen time with favorite music or books on tape. Good luck! -Janice SLP