Too Much Screen Time For Children Below 30 Months Can Negatively Impact Language Development

In Education

A recent study led by psychologist Sarah Kucker from Southern Methodist University suggests that excessive screen time, particularly video-watching, can have adverse effects on the language development of toddlers.

Caregivers crucial in mitigating negative impacts of screens in toddlers

The study highlights caregivers’ role in mitigating negative effects of digital media on children’s language skills. Children aged 17-30 months spend nearly two hours daily watching videos, doubling pre-pandemic estimates. Researchers indicate that excessive digital media consumption correlates negatively with vocabulary development in children.

Caregivers often use videos to pacify children, leading to simpler language use. Yet, the detrimental effect on language abilities diminishes when videos serve educational goals or facilitate social interactions like video calls with family.

Research conducted by Kucker, an assistant professor of psychology at SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities & Sciences, emphasizes the impact of media on language development in early childhood. Despite a scarcity of studies on toddlers’ use of digital media compared to older age groups, Kucker aims to investigate the effects of screen time on toddlers to discern its beneficial and detrimental aspects.

Prof. Kucker recommends that guardians should conscientiously assess the type of videos their children view (whether for educational purposes or entertainment), along with their engagement with toddlers during screen time. The researcher recognizes that caregivers frequently resort to digital media to occupy their children while attending to other responsibilities. Furthermore, she advises caregivers and parents to carefully contemplate the extent of digital media exposure they permit for their young ones and whether they can engage with them concurrently.

Digital media impacts language in children below 30 months

Most importantly the research underscores the necessity for parents, caregivers, and educators to comprehend the impact of digital media on language development in children under 30 months old. Understanding the types and reasons for digital media usage can facilitate the implementation of strategies to foster healthier language development.

Prof. Kucker and colleagues will further investigate children’s video consumption habits, screen usage in social contexts, and the potential implications of a two-hour daily digital media exposure on language development.

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