Screen Time Linked to Decreases in Measures of Parent-Child Talk

Young children's exposure to screen time linked to decreases in adult words, child vocalizations, back-and-forth interactions
Screen Time Linked to Decreases in Measures of Parent-Child Talk
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MONDAY, March 4, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- Increases in young children's screen time are associated with decreases in adult words, child vocalizations, and back-and-forth interactions, according to a study published online March 4 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Mary E. Brushe, Ph.D., from the University of Western Australia in Adelaide, and colleagues examined the longitudinal association between screen time and three measures of parent-child talk when children are age 12 to 36 months in a prospective cohort study. In an average 16-hour day, advanced speech recognition technology was used to capture young children's screen time and home language environment. Data were obtained from 220 families in the family home when children were 12, 18, 24, 30, and 36 months of age.

The researchers found that increases in screen time were associated with decreases in measures of parent-child talk in adjusted linear mixed-effect models. At 36 months, the largest decreases were seen; an additional minute of screen time was associated with reductions of 6.6 adult words, 4.9 child vocalizations, and 1.1 conversational turns.

"Interventions should focus on reducing barriers to a language-rich home environment, with a focus on supports for family’s screen time use," the authors write. "Identifying different ways that screen time could facilitate parent-child interactions, such as through interactive co-viewing, may be important strategies to support families given the current ubiquitous nature of screen time in families' lives."

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