Developmental delays linked to overload of screen time

GOLDEN TRIANGLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Technology is all around us. It’s our main source of entertainment, and it’s taking on a larger role in the world of education, especially since the COVID Pandemic increased the need to learn from home.

But that same technology that is used to teach is also being linked to developmental delays, especially among pre-schoolers.

According to the American Language Hearing Association, the very screen you are watching now and the technology you use daily are linked to some developmental delays in children from newborn to 5 years old. And experts are saying what can help is turning off the screen and implementing.

“I know it’s fun, and I know that they like it, and I know you are going to be the bad guy but be the bad guy and pull it and let screen time be very, very limited,” Edmonds said.

Naomi Edmonds is the Director of the Early Learning Center at Columbus First United Methodist Church.

She has seen a lot of changes in her three decades of early childhood education. One of those changes, the overload of screen time, she says has affected the classroom learning experience.

“You can not teach those things until you got the focus and until you got a child that knows how to negotiate to speak for themselves and speak up for themselves and say what they need to say,” Edmonds said.

Edmonds says with today’s children so used to the stimulation of technology, her staff has had to increase their creativity to keep the in-person attention.

“But we are doing a lot more things where we have some props while we tell stories, and that helps keep the children engaged,” Edmonds said.

Children often draw their cues from their parents, so if parents want children to engage more, they’re going to have to model that behavior for them.

“If they see their mom and dad getting on the floor playing, they know that’s what they are supposed to do they are going to mimic, but if they see us as parents getting on our screens, that’s what they think they are supposed to do,” Davis said.

Speech Pathologist and owner of Kids Therapy Spot Melissa Davis says that learning programs online are great tools, but they are not the best to help with interaction.

“Children come along and have a language delay because they haven’t had to use it; basically, it’s a screen coming to them, and their output is not demanded,” Davis said.

Davis says the best way to increase social skills for children is to put the screen down and experience the world, in real life.

“Not looking at the world around us. We are just looking at the screen in front of us when a child doesn’t have the opportunity to interact with his world; this is his or her world,” Davis said.

For more information about screen time and how it affects your children click here.

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