Are you concerned that your kids spend too much time on tablets, smartphones, or other devices? Do you have fewer conversations with your kids than you’d like because of technology distractions? Do you find yourself constantly asking your kids to lower the volume on devices because you can hear the music blaring through their earbuds or headphones? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you are a typical parent in the digital age. These are struggles for most of us as technology increasingly becomes central to our lives and our children’s lives.

Kids today are using devices for hours every day, time that once was reserved for talking and reading, interactive and imaginative play, outdoor experiences, and other activities. Yet, the primary way young children develop their speech and language abilities is through verbal communication and personal interaction. A trip to the supermarket, downtime in a doctor’s waiting room, or a ride in the car are ideal times to point out new objects, ask your child questions, and generally converse. It’s important that parents stay mindful of these learning opportunities, and not allow tech time to encroach on such daily opportunities, tempting as it may be to keep a child occupied. Even if a child is playing educational game on a device, nothing replaces what is learned through person-to-person communication and hands-on experiences.

During the month of May the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) celebrates Better Hearing & Speech Month. During this time, ASHA and its members are urging parents to implement some basic tech rules in their households and to carve out some device-free time each day. In addition to implementing basic tech measures, ASHA asks parents, especially those of young children, to use May as a time to assess their children’s communication development and familiarize themselves with the signs of speech and language disorders. Speech and language disorders are among the most common conditions in children. A number of recent studies have shown that these disorders are on the rise in the United States. Untreated communication disorders can lead to problems with reading, writing, learning, and overall academic achievement. They also may lead to problems with social skills. Early detection is the key to a shorter, more effective, and less expensive course of treatment. Ideally, treatment begins long before a child enters school, so parents should not delay if they have concerns; however, treatment at any age is critical.

For more information about communication milestones and early signs of a speech and language disorder, visit ASHA’s Identify the Signs. If you have any concerns about your child’s speech and language development, please contact Creative Speech Solutions at 908.598.0228 for a FREE screening or a comprehensive evaluation.

Source: The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2016