News ID: 192209
Published: 0248 GMT May 06, 2017

Child smartphone and tablet usage linked to speech delays in toddlers

Child smartphone and tablet usage linked to speech delays in toddlers

If a toddler spends a lot of time playing on a mobile phone or tablet, it may delay when they start talking, researchers have warned.

New research, which will be presented at the annual Paediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco, suggested that for every 30 minutes a day a child spends looking at a handheld screen, the risk of a delay in expressive speech was increased by 50 percent, reported.

Researchers studied 894 children aged between six months and two years in Toronto over a three year period.

By their 18 month check-up, 20 percent of the children spent roughly 28 minutes a day using a handheld device, according to their parents.

Using a screening tool, researchers found that the more handheld screen time a child’s parent reported, the more likely the child was to have delays in expressive speech, concluding that for each 30 minute increase in screen time, a child was 49 percent more likely to be at risk of expressive speech delay.

There were no other apparent links between screen time and other communication delays including social interactions and body language.

Dr. Catherine Birken, the lead investigator and a staff pediatrician and scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children in California, said that although there are guidelines for limiting screen time for children we believe that the use of smartphones and tablets with young children has become quite common.

She supported a recent policy recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics to discourage any type of screen media in children younger than 18 months.

The study did not prove a direct cause and effect and the researchers called for further studies into the issue.

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