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Staci Jackson, M.A., CCC-SLP

Technology is everywhere and it is being used by younger and younger children. Most children today have been using technology almost since birth. Recently, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), polled parents of children under the age of eight regarding their daily use of technology. The results are thought-provoking. Parents reported that 62% of the two-year olds use tablets, 59% use smartphones, and 44% use game consoles. Despite these findings, a majority of parents reported that they believe technology negatively impacts the quality and quantity of conversations with their children.

This begs the question, “What impact does technology have on communication development in young children?” While the implications of technology use are not yet fully understood, we do know that human interaction is essential for speech and language development. The brains of young children develop rapidly during their first years and they learn best by interacting with people. The American Academy of Paediatrics suggests that screens be avoided altogether until a child turns two.

As the Internet turns 25 this year, there is no doubt that this complex mesh of connectivity has changed humankind forever. The Internet has broken down barriers faster than any other communications medium in the history of civilisation and it is symbolically significant that, in the same year the World Wide Web was born, the Berlin Wall came crashing down.

At the same time, the Internet, coupled with technological innovation, has seen massive advances in the power of computing. These giant strides have made telecommunications accessible to billions. The miniaturization of computers has enabled mobility and there is some kind of connectivity on every corner of the planet.

For the first time in history, children are using the same technology as their parents and they know how to use it better, although not necessarily responsibly. They have the same access to the world as we do. In fact, we are the first generation of parents that will never keep up with the prevailing technology and finds itself constantly on the back foot, playing catch-up and desperately trying to understand the wired generation that are our children.

Aki Anastasiou
(Had you ever thought about that?)