Bookmark and Share

Technology: A Chief Culprit in Language Delays

By Shari Harpaz, CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist

Whether parents like it or not, early language development is chiefly influenced by interaction with their children. Infants develop early language skills through engaging in vocal play. They learn the satisfaction of communicating by going back-and-forth with a parent making sounds. Interacting with baby toys in a mutual way also contributes to language development. As toddlers they develop vocabulary and learn grammar through language stimulation from their environment and interaction with their family and peers.

The problem is that in today’s busy society our reliance on technology and the need for instant gratification has constrained these important interactions with our children.

We check email on our phones and PDA’s during ‘family dinner’. We text message our friends ‘quickly’ when in a car. Children play portable video games or watch DVD more frequently. All of these changes have changed the way families and friends communicate and this has negatively impacted early language development for many young children. As a result, there has been a significant increase in children who are ‘late-talkers.’

The good news is that in many cases all these children need to catch up is more one-to-one language stimulation with their family.

Don’t let technology interfere with family time

When you were a child and took a family trip, you probably played games and sang songs in the car to help pass the time. These days, technology is the tool of choice for filling our spare time. Cars are equipped with DVD players. Children, as young as pre-schoolers, have portable video games. Even elementary school aged children have cell phones. While these are great inventions, their presence means there is less time for parents to take part in language stimulation with their young children. This doesn’t have to be the case. Here are some suggestions to get back to the basics on your next family road trip.

  1. Play “I Spy” – I like to play with the rule that you can’t repeat the same object that someone has previously said so that your child really has to pay close attention. Increase the difficulty of the game by describing the object rather than saying the label (i.e. I spy something you ride with 2 wheels and handlebars)

  2. Make up a story together – Decide as a family what the title of the story will be first. Then each person takes a turn telling the next sentence. Your child will have to really listen and be creative to help create a cohesive story.

  3. Share your favorite moments – at the end of an active day, everyone can tell what their favorite and least favorite things they did were. By sharing the good and bad moments it teaches children to vocalize their emotions. You, as parents, share your feelings too which provides your children with a great model.

Bottom line: take advantage of car rides when distractions can be kept out and you can gain your child’s undivided attention. Be creative and create an open environment for your children to communicate with you and for them to learn. Most importantly, have fun family time!


If you liked this article, you may also want to read our other developmental articles:


Untitled Document
Guidelines for Summer Activities Gopi K. Patel, MSE.d
Learning Through Movement… A Sensory-Rich Way to Help Children Barbara Greenspan, OT
Five Elements of Successfully Disciplining Your Toddler Andy Eig, PhD.
Preventing Family Headaches Andy Eig, PhD.

Let's Get... Potty Trained!

Gopi K. Patel, MSE.d
Play is A Lot More Than Fun and Games Shari Harpaz, MS, CCC-SLP
Understanding Your Child's Personality Gopi K. Patel, MSE.d
Nursemaid's Elbow Deanie Barth, MSPT
Torticollis – What Every Parent Should Know Deanie Barth, MSPT
Getting to Know Your Body Barbara Greenspan, OT
Learning to Read Starts Young Shari Harpaz, MS, CCC-SLP
It’s All In The Hands - Ways to Develop Fine Motor Skills Barbara Greenspan, OT
Understanding the Different Modes/Styles of Learning Shari Harpaz, MS, CCC-SLP
Achieving Gross Motor Milestones and Play Skills Through Summer Time Fun Deanie Barth, MSPT
Help With Grandparents Andy Eig, PhD.
Helicopter Parenting Barbara Greenspan, OT
Eye-Hand Coordination Barbara Greenspan, OT
Five Major Milestones for Early Physical Development Deanie Barth, MSPT
It's All About the Core Deanie Barth, MSPT
Using Time Outs Properly and Effectively Andy Eig, PhD.
Making Room for Two Andy Eig, PhD.
Giving is MORE than Toys Gopi K. Patel, MSE.d
Using the  5  7 Senses Barbara Greenspan, OT
Have You Spanked Your Children? Gopi K. Patel, MSE.d
What to Expect During the Sixth Year of Your Baby's Life Gopi K. Patel, MSE.d
What to Expect During the Third Year of Your Baby's Life Gopi K. Patel, MSE.d
What to Expect During the Second Year of Your Baby's Life Barbara Greenspan, OT
What to Expect During the First Year of Your Baby's Life Deanie Barth, MSPT
Psychiatric Medication and Young Children: Is there too much pill popping? Andy Eig, PhD.
Exersaucers, Swings and Jumpers— A help or hindrance to development? Deanie Barth, MSPT
Technology — A Chief Culprit in Language Delays Shari Harpaz, MS, CCC-SLP
Great Indoor Winter Play Ideas Barbara Greenspan, OT