‘Interaction With Your Kids Involves Action On Your Part’
A speech therapist puts down the screen to play with his child and so can you
The other day, my wife and I went to one of our favorite restaurants. No kids. So basically, peace and quiet. When I say peace and quiet, I think we really took it to heart. We ended up getting our phones out and didn’t look up until we began eating. I don’t think those phones really helped our interaction. And YES, I do love my wife and our marriage is just fine.
If you think about our kiddos, that’s all they know these days. Just walk around at the mall. You see a kid and attached to them is a tablet.
Are tablets the worst thing in the world? I don’t think so, but they may be affecting the types of interactions we have with our children according to a study completed in Toronto, Ontario. They found that for “every 30-minute increase in daily screen time was linked to a 49 percent increased risk of what the researchers call expressive speech delay.”
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “What about those educational Apps that go over colors, ABCs or numbers?” I see your point, but that’s only part of a child’s language. Let’s think about conversational turn-taking or even play skills. I don’t think I’ve come across applications that can teach children those important skills.
I’ll be honest, my son is 2 years of age and there are times where we put him in front of a screen. It keeps him occupied while we complete chores or help his infant sister. It happens and I don’t want you thinking that you are the worst parent in the world.
Just like most things though, everything needs to be in moderation.
My son was at a birthday party recently. All the children were doing an activity and the instructor told the kids to yell for help. All the kiddos obviously said, “HELP!” Except my son, who is really into Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. He yelled out, “Ohhh Tooodles.” If that wasn’t a sign that he is watching too much TV I don’t know what is!! It’s kinda embarrassing considering I am a speech therapist.
Just like most parents, you learn as you go. There isn’t a manual for these sorts of things. If parenting wasn’t hard enough, society around us is also continuously changing. My wife and I have quickly learned that although my son asks for Mickey Mouse dance (that’s what he calls it because of the hotdog dance) it doesn’t mean we have to turn it on for him. There are so many games that we can play. Surprisingly, I was doing chores around the house and he wanted to help as well.
Here are some tips to get your kids away from the screen and be interactive with you:
1.Reenact an episode of your child's favorite show (in our case it's the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse). You can do similar games or even make up your own.
2.Pause the TV show he or she is watching and talk about what you just saw or what you think will happen next.
3.TURN THE TV OFF. Our most fun experiences have been when the power has gone out. That forces us to interact and just play.
Interaction involves an action. Just NOT sitting on the couch in front of a screen.
Jonathan Suarez is a speech pathologist at Cook Children's. Speech and language pathologists evaluate, treat and develop programs and activities to help children with feeding and swallowing, articulation, voice and hearing loss, to name a few. If you child's condition affects hearing, speech and/or language, you may be referred to one or a combination of these therapists. Learn more about audiology and our rehabiliation services by clicking here.