Screen time and communication

Nowadays, with technology easily accessible and our lives being so busy, what do we do about our children's screen time?

Your child is throwing a tantrum because you’ve taken away their device – sound familiar? It’s easy to imagine the answer could be yes.

It’s easier to let them be on their devices, but is it always the right approach? In the opinion of Michelle Klompas who has a Masters degree in Speech-Language Therapy, it depends on the amount, context, and content. She strongly believes that screen time should never replace communication. It can be integrated into our lives, but it shouldn’t replace our face-to-face interactions with our children.

Many children who spend a significant amount of time on screens forget how to communicate with people  – skills like making eye contact, greeting people, engaging in reciprocal conversations, interpreting facial expressions and body language can be lost. These aspects fall under pragmatics, which refers to appropriate social communication depending on the context and audience. There is a place for screen time, apps, and using devices like iPads for educational purposes and instant communication, but it shouldn’t replace face-to-face interaction. Reading a physical book with your child has numerous benefits, such as bonding, learning, stimulating language skills, phonics, and reading ability. Playing board games like Monopoly allows you to engage with your child and teach them various underlying skills, including following rules, taking turns, sharing, and communicating.

Many of these skills are difficult to develop through a screen. Engaging in activities like dress-up and hide and seek introduces a whole new world to your children, fostering imagination, language skills, creativity, body language, and facial expressions. Young kids need to play outside in the sandbox and on the playground. Screen time cannot replace the sensory input that outdoor play provides.

Apps and technology certainly assist in learning and can be used as educational tools, for example, when researching a topic for a school project or helping children with dyslexia, spelling, and reading difficulties. There are valuable educational reading and maths apps to be used in conjunction with teaching and therapy, but they should never replace the role of a teacher or therapist. If screen time is used as a reward, it should be carefully monitored in terms of content and duration. The risk of screen addiction is real. As adults, we need to set a good example for our children. It’s not fair to limit your child’s device usage if you, as a parent, are constantly on yours.

Thinking about devices reminds Klompas of the time when everything went online due to COVID, and overnight, educators, therapists, and learners had to adapt to teaching, learning, and therapy through a screen. It was no easy task for everyone involved. Many learners struggled with this mode of learning. It taught us important lessons about screen time. For her, the most crucial one was that screen time cannot replace the human element, especially in the educational and therapeutic context.


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To find out more about Bellavista School and the resources available to parents, educators, health professionals and caregivers, visit their website.


Article provided by Michelle Klompas (MA Speech-Language Therapy)


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