The average child age 8 and under in the United States uses more than three personal tech devices—such as a tablet, smartphone, or video game console—at home, according to a new poll of parents conducted by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). With even the youngest kids now “connected” via such technology, it is important to remember to manage tech time so it doesn’t overtake time for talking with children.
Talking to children in their first years of life sets them up for future academic success. The easiest and most effective way that children learn is simply by talking. Studies have proven the link between the number and variety of words a child hears and later academic achievement.
May is Better Hearing & Speech Month—a time to prioritize communication. Here are 10 tips for parents on how to manage kids’ technology use to keep communication at the forefront.
- Create tech-free times. Find at least one or two opportunities during the day—at the dinner table, for example—for everyone to disconnect. Mealtime is a prime opportunity for conversation. Make a commitment and have everyone check their devices at the kitchen door.
- Resist overreliance on technology to pacify boredom. Fifty-five percent of parents worry that they rely on technology too much to keep their child entertained, according to the ASHA poll. Roughly half of parents say that they are using technology as a means to keep kids age 0–3 entertained. Remember that the best opportunities for conversation and learning are often found in situations that may be viewed as boring, such as while running errands or on a long car trip—particularly for the youngest children. While it may be tempting, try to resist the urge to immediately turn to these devices as a source of entertainment.
- Don’t overestimate the value of educational apps. Children learn best simply through talking, conversing, and reading. Technology is not the best way to teach, though it can reinforce and allow practice of skills under development.
- Make tech use a group activity. While it is most often used on an individual basis, tech use can be turned into a group activity, such as while playing an online game. Talk about what you’re doing!
- Consider whether young kids really need their own devices. It is not uncommon for kids to have their own tablets or mp3 players. Many are designed and marketed specifically for kids. This may lead to more time spent alone with technology throughout the day. On the other hand, devices designed for kids often offer additional features that appeal to parents, such as limited (kid-appropriate) content and extra security options, so this is a balance for parents to consider.
- Set daily time limits. Certain devices can be programmed by parents to shut off after a certain amount of time, but you can also make a child aware of the time limit and keep track yourself.
- Be consistent in enforcing the parameters you set for tech use. ASHA’s poll found a majority of parents report setting limitations on their children’s tech use. However, the reality of their children’s tech use often doesn’t line up with the set restrictions, by parents’ own accounts. Moreover, adherence often seems to break down at ages 7 or 8 despite the rules parents say they set.
- Always practice safe listening, especially when using ear buds or headphones. Misuse of this technology can lead to noise-induced hearing loss. Even minor hearing loss takes a significant toll academically, socially, vocationally, and in other ways, so prevent the preventable. Teach kids to keep the volume down (a good guide is half volume) and take listening breaks.
- Model the tech habits you want your kids to adopt. Practice what you preach when it comes to tech time and safe-listening habits.
- Learn the signs of communication disorders. This is important for all parents, regardless of their children’s technology use. Early treatment can prevent or reverse many communication disorders. Parents should not wait to see if a child “outgrows” a suspected speech or hearing problem. If you have any question about your child’s speech or hearing, seek an assessment from a speech-language pathologist or audiologist. Learn more at http://IdentifytheSigns.org.
Source: American-Speech-Language Hearing Association
Identify the Signs of Communication Disorders: A Critical Tool
Thousands of young children in Houston went back to school this September. During the initial months of the school year, there is heightened attention on students’ development and academic progress. Let us hope they have healthy speech and hearing, for there aren’t many other settings where the ability to communicate matters more.
With our years of experience working in the field of communication disorders, our therapists have seen the debilitating effects that these issues can have on the people of Houston when left untreated. Too often, people of all ages struggle with these challenges and fail to seek proper, timely treatment because they cannot recognize the early warning signs. Early detection of speech, language and hearing issues is absolutely critical to improving academic, social and career outcomes.
For people with communication disorders, those closest to them are often their biggest asset. Unfortunately, many parents and caregivers are unable to identify the early warning signs of these issues or dismiss them too readily. A recent poll of the speech-language pathologists and audiologists of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)—a professional association of which all of our speech pathologists are members of—reported significant parental delays in getting help for children with communication difficulties.
To remedy that, ASHA has launched a national campaign, Identify The Signs. This multimedia effort addresses the importance of early detection, helps the public identify the early warning signs of communication disorders, and encourages people to seek the best professional help through a series of TV, radio, print and digital public service announcements and a media outreach push. We encourage you to visit www.IdentifyTheSigns.org for information and resources, and to share it in your community. Above all, though, we hope you will seek help if you suspect that you or a loved one shows signs of having a disorder.
Please visit www.IdentifyTheSigns.org and learn more about the early signs of speech, language and hearing disorders. Early diagnosis is the most powerful way to reduce or even reverse their impact and can give your loved ones the opportunity to lead the fullest lives possible.
August is here! It is time to get ready to go back to school. Team Communication Essentials will be collecting school supplies to donate to the YMCA Operation Backpack from August 5th through August 9th. Please drop off all donations of backpack and school supplies at the office by Friday, August 9th.
YMCA Operation Backpack is an annual event that provides school supplies and backpacks to children throughout Greater Houston. The supplies are a great help to children in our area to assist them with the successful start of the new school year. For additional information regarding YMCA Operation Backpack, please visit http://www.ymcahouston.org/operation-backpack/.
Team Communication Essentials is delighted to celebrate Better Hearing & Speech Month. Each May, The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) sponsors this annual event to provide opportunities to raise awareness about communication disorders and to promote treatment that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems with speaking, understanding, or hearing. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association(ASHA) is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 166,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, speech, language, and hearing scientists, audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel, and students.
During this month, Team Communication Essentials has a variety of activities planned to recognize Better Hearing & Speech Month. We will be visiting many of our community partners to donate books to increase public awareness of the relationship between early literacy and language development. We will also provide our speech therapy team with literacy activites to share with our patients and families to help build strong language skills.
Team Communication Essentials will also sponsor a book drive to support R.E.A.D. for Houston (Recycle Engage And Donate), a local community organization that collects new and gently-used books to deliver to community centers that work with at-risk youth or promote early literacy through reading. Many centers, including area YMCA and Headstart facilities, have been past benefactors of R.E.A.D. for Houston projects. If you would like to support this effort, please contact our office.
During Better Hearing & Speech Month, we also take this opportunity to recognize the contributions of our amazing group of speech-language professionals. Our experienced team of pediatric speech-language pathologists and speech-language pathologist-assistants dilegently work to provide our patients with intensive language experiences to improve their overall communication skills. We work together to help our patients build essential communication skills to last a lifetime.
For more information regarding Better Hearing & Speech Month, please visit the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) website at www.asha.org.