An article published in the Sydney Morning Herald this year has prompted much parent discussion and some hand wringing in our clinic.
In her article on June 15, speech pathologist Annemarie Laurence described a the detrimental effects of having kids “attached” to their iPads. Spending hours glued to a screen certainly gives parents peace and quiet whilst shopping, driving and having a coffee- but for many preschoolers this means lost opportunities to learn and develop the social, speech and communication skills that are foundational to their future learning and development.
Deft iPad skills, far from being a marker of a child’s intellectual capacity, may well be diminishing it- as children’s attention spans, persistence at tasks, and speech and language skills are not challenged or fostered. I wont argue that some apps and some screen time (far less than we all allow) may certainly have some benefits, but they are vastly diminished, compared to the conversation and questioning embedded real world experiences and reading books. In her article Annemarie Laurence reported that up to 40% of children are arriving at school with delayed speech and language which has flow on effects into literacy and the other aspects of the curriculum. Discovering this problem in kindergarten is really 2 years too late. At Eastside Speech Solutions we visit all our local preschools to screen children early to help parents be on the ‘front foot’ when it comes to helping their arriving at school with the best foundation possible.
Why not use this Christmas an an opportunity not to spend vast sums of money on technology, but smaller sums on quality toys and books? In October Speech Pathology Australia announced their book of the year awards. Authors Claire Saxby (Seadog), Alison Lester (Sophie Scott Goes South), Morris Gleitzman (After) and Melanie Prewett (Two Mates) received Speech Pathology Australia’s 2013 Best Books for Language and Literacy Development awards.
Wishing you all the best for the Holiday Season.