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Screen time impacts children’s communication skills

Stephanie Carson • Updated Aug 17, 2016 at 6:00 PM

NASHVILLE – Smartphones and tablets make communicating easy in some ways and yet, experts warn there may be consequences for youngsters. 

A new poll from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association found the biggest concern of speech pathologists is that excessive technology use is replacing conversation and human interaction. 

Senior director of speech-language pathology at Cincinnati Children’s Dr. Ann Kummer explained when children are on devices, they’re not only missing out on verbal interaction, but also physical language.

“What’s most important in communication development and also in the development of relationships, is direct communication,” said Kummer. “Which means that you look at each other, you have eye contact, you laugh together and that is not well done through devices.”

A majority of speech-language pathologists in the poll said they believe the overuse of technology could cause irreversible damage to the communication skills of future generations. 

During Better Hearing and Speech Month in May, they are encouraging parents to model safe technology use and set reasonable parameters for their children.

Kummer said technology isn’t bad, but the key is moderation. She said nothing can replace what a child can learn through communicating person-to-person.

“A lot of times, parents are driving and kids are sitting using their devices and there’s no talking going on,” she said. “I always found in raising my kids that, sometimes, the best conversations were when we were together in the car.”

Kummer said there’s been a significant rise in hearing loss in young people in recent years, which coincides with an increase in MP3 players and iPods. She suggested encouraging children to keep the volume at half-level, because most hearing loss is irreversible.

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