Parents Concerned About Young Children’s Time Spent With Technology?


New ASHA Survey of U.S. Parents: Significant Percentages Report That Very Young Children Are Using Technology

Usage Is Occurring When Human Interaction Is Key To Developing Strong Communication Skills

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association commissioned a survey of U.S. parents on their children’s use and attitudes towards technology. Concerns were raised about time spent on devices might take away from their children’s time spent in face-to-face interactions, which is how children best learn language up to age 3, and certainly continue to build language and social skills thereafter. Here is ASHA’s press release to coincide with May, Better Speech and Hearing Month (my comments are in italics):

“(May 8, 2015 – Rockville, MD) A new survey of U.S. parents commissioned by American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) finds significant percentages reporting technology use by very young children and more than half of the parents surveyed have concerns about the potential negative impact of technology use on the ability of the young to communicate.

Conducted this past March, the survey polled 1,000 parents of children ages 0–8. Its release today occurs during Better Hearing & Speech Month, a national observance that raises awareness of speech, language, and hearing disorders—and spotlights the importance of communication health.

Sixty-eight percent of surveyed parents’ 2-year-olds use tablets. Meanwhile, 59% use smartphones, and 44% use video game consoles.

Such results raise questions about the course of the development of the very young’s capacities to communicate, according to Judith L. Page, PhD, CCC-SLP, 2015 ASHA president.

“The most rapid period of brain development takes place before age 3,” Dr. Page notes. “The primary way young children learn is through verbal communication that technology simply cannot duplicate.”

She adds: “Indeed, despite advances in technology, it remains critical that children have sufficient opportunities to develop their vocabulary and communication skills by listening, talking, reading, and interacting with their parents and others, for which there is no substitute.”

Survey respondents say technology holds positive promise. However, majorities express concern about how its misuse can harm communication health.

–55% have some degree of concern that misuse of technology may be harming their children’s hearing; with respect to speech and language skills, the figure is 52%.

 Okay, so more than half are concerned so what should we do?

–52% say they are concerned that technology negatively impacts the quality of their conversations with their children; 54 % say they are concerned that they have fewer conversations with their children than they would like because of technology.

–Parents recognize the potential hazard of personal audio devices to their children’s hearing; 72% agree that loud noise from technology may lead to hearing loss in their children.

Although it is encouraging that a vast majority of surveyed parents report putting limits on their children’s technology use, the efficacy of those steps is questionable given other survey results.

For example, 24% of 2-year olds use technology at the dinner table—a prime time for the kind of interaction that fosters strong communication development. By age 8, that percentage nearly doubles (45%).”

This is disturbing to me. We all know the value of gathering the family (and their attention) at the dinner table, even if for a few minutes to talk about our day and listen to what kids are dealing with. Maybe families should use the method some people are using when they go out to eat where they “Stack Up” their cell phones and the first one to grab their phone and use it has to pay for the meal! Obviously there would have to be another more appropriate consequence for kids but I like the idea behind it. We don’t have time for it all and one clearly replaces the other–undivided attention to live conversation or interacting with your device.

 Also, by age 6, 44% of kids would rather play a game on a technology device than read a book or be read to. By age 8, a majority would prefer that technology is present when spending time with a family member or friend.

Clearly from the survey, parents are concerned about time spent in personal conversation competing with interacting with a device so maybe more emphasis should be placed on setting limits on the latter so real life chat gets a better chance. I know how hard it is to implement these boundaries, especially if you have a child who is exceedingly interested in technology, but who said parenting is easy??

In addition, more than half of parents surveyed say they use technology to keep kids ages 0–3 entertained; nearly 50% of parents of children age 8 report they often rely on technology to prevent behavior problems and tantrums.

ASHA President Page encourages parents to set and enforce meaningful and healthy limits early and understand that usage rules need to be adapted as children get older and acquire new interests in technology.

Noting that the majority of polled parents report that their kids use technology devices on car trips, Page says the coming summer season presents unique opportunities to engage kids.

“If a long vacation drive is in store, parents may want to use the time to converse with their children. Such opportunities seem to be getting harder to come by in this busy world. It is important to take advantage of every chance to build strong communication skills.”

I agree. You have your kids captive in the car and what an opportunity to enjoy some conversation. If you want to gather up some ideas before a trip, check out these Car Ride Activities for Speech and Language, which are fun ways to get kids talking.”

Parents can learn more at http://IdentifytheSigns.

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 182,000 audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders.



Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up, Strategies to Encourange Language Development, Toddlers | Leave a comment

New Folkmanis Puppets for Conversation and Story-telling

seaserpent_3049_sI’ve had my head down reviewing so many fantastic new products submitted for the PAL Award this spring and now I need to catch up and share them with you–my fellow professionals who work with kids AND parents and grandparents looking for great gifts for their kids.

Puppets just open up the world of communication, especially for that hard to reach kid or one that might be a little shy. I took my 4 new Folkmanis puppets in my therapy bag to share with kids last week and they lit up. The 4 PAL Award winners, “Sea Serpent,” “Frilled Lizard,” “Dragon in Turret” and “Winged Dragon” appealed to different kids for different reasons but all sparked conversation and storytelling which reinforces language, reading and writing skills. Kids loved discovering “extra” places to insert their hands or fingers to make the puppets come to life. The Sea Serpent slithered around with the help of a second hand in his tail to wiggle through the mist, the “Frilled Lizard” took a quirky stance as he stood up and puffed up his pleated collar, moving it forward and back, the Dragon popped out of the Turret and the “Winged Dragon” flapped his wings. Folk tales are included with the imaginary characters while interesting facts are included with the “Frilled Lizard” to support a story and explain when and why he flaps his collar.

After playing with each puppet, kids asked if they could keep it. I think that is a good endorsement of the fun these puppets provide while encouraging imaginations, pretend play and dialogue.

For my full reviews click here.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Fun Speech Activities for Poetry Month

Poetry Month-pocketAs I am working with several elementary aged kids, I am planning my lessons around their poetry units associated with National Poetry Month. When I visited our public library yesterday I came upon several “pockets” throughout the building, stuffed with poems to share. One could easily adapt this to the classroom as kids choose their favorite poem, make copies and take home to share them with their families.

My students have enjoyed Jeff Foxworthy’s books, “Dirt on my Shirt” and “Silly Street.” I imgreshave used the poems to illustrate poetry vocabulary– personification, onomatopoeia, metaphor and simile– as well as inference. What is the main idea or theme of the poem?

Also, I found helpful sites for age appropriate definitions and examples of the above terms:

Brainpop Educators


Great Books for Teaching Similies


Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Using “What’s Wrong?” Games in Speech Therapy

Silly picture EasterThis week we used a student’s Easter card for some fun carryover as my student is working on overall precision, “moving his mouth” as well as slowing down his rate. Kids love finding what’s silly in a picture (and I do too) so he would point to something and then have to describe what is silly, “Ice cream cones for flowers in the flower box,” a whistle for a doorknob” or “balloon for the car wheel.” 

Often I pick up good ideas for therapy activities from workbooks or toys at a child’s home. It keeps me fresh as to what is entertaining for a certain age. This is the same house where the little boy asked me if we could do “Hidden Pictures” and we spent the whole hour finding and coloring in hidden objects as reinforcements for correct productions.

Here are some free  “What’s Wrong?” activities from Highlights where kids have to follow the clues and find as many odd, weird, or wacky things as you can. Since I work with so many 5-7 year-old boys this is right up their alley.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Language, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Mixing Puzzles and Playdoh in Speech Therapy Activities

Ravensburger puzzle and playdoh animalsEveryone has challenging preschoolers to work with who go through your therapy bag of activities quickly and you scratch your head trying to find what will hold their interest.

This week I was with a just 3 year-old who loved to assemble my Playdoh animals as we rolled the ball for the body and added “tail, eyes, nose, and ears” as we worked on beginning consonants and vowels. We had completed Ravensburger’s “Counting Animals” puzzle first and it took up most of our table since she wouldn’t let me put it away. Next thing I realized she was matching her Playdoh animals and placing them on the corresponding animals pictured in the puzzle. The elephant joined the pictured animals that were playing water polo and the giraffe stood with the giraffe riding a bicycle! I sat back and fed her words to repeat as she enjoyed the puzzle as the backdrop for her play.

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Clever Ways to Learn Sight Words

Sight words napkin holderI love to pick up ideas from families that I work with. This week I was doing therapy at a kitchen table when the little boy looked with interest at the paper napkin holder and asked what it said. Mom had put sticky notes on all 4 sides with a few sight words on them for practice. It seems to be the season of report cards and parents’ heightened interest in helping their kids’ reading skills. I have had inquiries on how to help improve reading comprehension and build letter-sound recognition and remember sight words. I thought I would give you some suggestions that I share with parents:

Zingo Sight Words by ThinkFun is a favorite with kids as they love the “Zinger” mechanism which reveals 2 tiles with sight words on them and they work to fill their Bingo-like cards.

uKloo Treasure Hunt Game is a wonderful early reading game designed by a mom whose child was struggling with learning to read. I have played it countless times with my grandchildren and they never tire of going on their treasure hunt, and using the chart to decipher words.

Write sight words on plastic eggs (may include a little treat for getting the right answer), plastic cups to stack, or tongue depressors to name as you choose one.

Sight words willWrite sight words on sticky notes and put them on spaces of a favorite game like Twister’s circles, Go Fish cards or Jenga‘s pieces. Have your child say the word as they touch or place the piece.

Here are some fun ideas from I Can Teach My Child which include Sight Word Bingo, using Fruit Loops as markers on your homemade cards, “Snowy Sight Words” where you write your word in glue and decorate it, and “Sight Word Smash” where you bake cotton balls (yes, there is a recipe included) , write a word on the balls in permanent marker and give your child a chance to name it, rewarding him with smashing it with a kid-friendly mallet!

Simple, but effective is to post a list of sight words where your child looks often like his bulletin board in his room or the napkin holder on the kitchen table!



Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Reading, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Using Ravensburger’s New ABC Puzzle in Language Lesson

ABC Puzzle by RavensburgerAs a parents and educators, we are always looking for ways to make learning the ABC’s fun. Add in a Ravensburger puzzle and kids are learning while engrossed in their search for the right piece. I used their new puzzle for carryover in speech therapy as my 6 year-old friend discussed what piece he was searching for, making sure he was using his /s/ sound while he was at it.

A good puzzle can be used for a variety of language lessons and in this case  the alphabet theme is cleverly woven throughout the puzzle to give location clues for pieces based on letters, matching objects and people, and the printed word corresponding to images. Kids get a literacy work-out as they search for pieces based on the associated sound and letter, making critical links leading to reading.

Here is my full review of Ravensburger’s new ABC Puzzle.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Easter Fun for The Grandchildren

Easter egg dyingI hope everyone had a wonder Easter and Passover this past weekend! We were excited to have one of our sons and his wife and twin 2 year-olds and 4 month-old to help us celebrate. As I was up early to dye Easter eggs all alone, shrink wrap (with the use of my hair dryer) some eggs and bake a bunny cake, I thought “Only for my grandkids!!” AND that was besides making the meal.

It was all worth it to go on a hunt through the front yard. My favorite hiding spot was under a small branch of leaves every few feet. The hiders were quite clever this year. The bunny cake took on a new look with the two spatulas and jar of icing we left in the kids’ hands. He actually looked furry with the upturn of frosting all over him. Then we chose our pig, cow, or chick sprinkles to finish him off. By the way, the eggs with fish and cheese crackers were much more popular than the real hard-boiled eggs. It was fun to see them “shake” them all.


Posted in Birth-3 year-olds, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Plush Book Characters Encourage Language

Max and Ruby roleplay phoneOver the years I have gathered several plush book characters to introduce when reading some of my favorite picture books with kids. They naturally extend the language lesson as kids become endeared with The Pout Pout Fish, Max and Ruby, Fancy Nancy or Maisy. The simplest step past the book is to re-tell and enact the story using the plush character. Kids can take on the role of their character and “talk” for her, practicing dialogue and conversation within the plot that has now become familiar.

I love when kids take off in a new story direction with their plush as the leading character. After setting out a Lego Duplo grocery store set, I watched my two little friends take on their Max and Max and Ruby role play groceryRuby characters and suddenly one said, “Phone call,” to which Ruby put her Play-Doh phone up to her ear, and Max used a rounded brick for his. What creativity! We were working on talking for our character so they had a chance to practice their conversation. Max arrived at the grocery store manned by Ruby and made some selections before being jammed into the Lego car to drive home. Eventually he just rode on top which was much easier to manage!

Finally, Max headed home to get a good night’s sleep. The flat green Lego piece had been a
Max and Ruby role play sleep“bumpy road” but now became his bed softened by his Play-Doh pillow and blanket. These beloved characters have literally cracked the language of a little boy I have been working with who is on the autism spectrum. He loved the books, especially “Max Cleans Up” and “Max’s Chocolate Chicken” as well as the short videos which have just enough plot, lots of silliness, and  the right mix of Max getting in trouble to make them appealing. He has taken off in his story re-telling and generation of new plots with the books’ characters–just what we want him to do as he builds his language skills and enjoys typical play with his peers.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, Articulation, Birth-3 year-olds, Language, Preschool, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Out of props? Grab the Playdoh

Fisher Price little people PlaydohSpeaking of snow, I had a great time yesterday working with a 4 year-old child on the autism spectrum on generating novel descriptions and dialogue in pretend play. We had our Fisher Price little people out with a slide, some beds, a table and chairs and car. We started out going to the “playground” and he asked for a coat and gloves for his hands. I got out the Playdoh and he wrapped it around their shoulders and pinched a little bit on each hand. We added some hats and were ready to go outside and stay warm.

I simply added some props (a table and chairs) and suggested they come inside for a snack. He repeated some of my dialogue but entered in with “Let’s go inside,” as he took off their coats, hats and mittens. Now the green Playdoh was available for rolling hot dogs and making hamburgers. I set down some plastic cups and he offered his figure a drink of lemonade. After we finished our snack the bus arrived to take the kids home. We shortened our day as I set out 2 beds and the boy and girl got ready for bed, pulling up a blanket of… you guessed it, Playdoh.

Posted in Language, play, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment