Smartphones can have a negative impact on children’s language development. This is the result of a current study from Australia. Too much screen time would cost up to 1,000 words a day.

Many parents give their children a smartphone to keep them busy. But when adolescents spend too much time in front of screens instead of playing games, they miss important moments of conversation. Too much screen time can even impair language development, warn researchers from Australia in a recent study.

Smartphones impair language development

According to the study results, while children spend time on their smartphones, they hear fewer words from adults, interact less with them and are less aware of conversation processes. However, language development is based on precisely such moments.

To find out how digital media affects linguistic interactions within families, the researchers collected data from a total of 220 families every six months over a period of almost four years. On an average 16-hour day, they recorded the screen time of the twelve to 36-month-old children and examined their linguistic environment.

Screen time: Children miss up to 1,000 words a day

The researchers concluded that parent-child conversations continually decreased as screen time increased. As a result, the children took part in fewer conversations, heard fewer words and spoke less themselves. The researchers found the greatest linguistic decline in three-year-old adolescents.

According to the study results, children aged 36 months would miss an average of around 1,000 words if they had 172 minutes of screen time per day. Given the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended maximum screen time of one hour per day, children would still miss 400 words per day.

The researchers recommend reducing the time in front of screens in order to avoid negative effects on educational progress. However, it is unrealistic to completely do without digital devices. Rather, families should be encouraged to use screen time as an opportunity to interact with children.

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