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Less Screen Time, More Conversation for Kids

Experts say kids need to spend less time in front of a screen, and warn too much of it could hurt their communication skills. (Victoria Jordan)
Experts say kids need to spend less time in front of a screen, and warn too much of it could hurt their communication skills. (Victoria Jordan)
May 24, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Smartphones and tablets make communicating easy in some ways and yet, experts warn there may be consequences for youngsters.

A new poll from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association found the biggest concern of speech pathologists is that excessive technology use is replacing conversation and human interaction.

Dr. Ann Kummer, senior director of speech-language pathology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, explains when kids are on devices, they're not only missing out on verbal interaction but also physical language.

"What's most important in communication development and also in the development of relationships is direct communication," says Kummer. "Which means you look at each other, you have eye contact, you laugh together and that is not well done through devices."

A majority of speech-language pathologists in the poll said they believe the overuse of technology could cause irreversible damage to the communication skills of future generations.

During Better Hearing and Speech Month in May, they are encouraging parents to model safe technology use and set reasonable parameters for their children.

Kummer notes technology isn't bad, but the key is moderation. She says nothing can replace what a child can learn through communicating person-to-person.

"A lot of times, parents are driving and kids are sitting using their devices and there's no talking going on," she says. "I always found in raising my kids that, sometimes, the best conversations were when we were together in the car."

Kummer adds there's been a significant rise in hearing loss in young people in recent years, which coincides with an increase in MP3 players and iPods.

She suggests encouraging kids to keep the volume at half-level, because most hearing loss is irreversible.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - AR