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Suffolk Center for Speech

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Healthy Communication & Popular Technology Initiative

Technology today allows us to do some pretty amazing things, but at what cost? Researchers have found that technology may be enhancing our lives in many ways, however, it is also profoundly changing the way we communicate. Experts fear that these changes may lead to diminished speech, language and hearing abilities over time. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has developed the Healthy Communication & Popular Technology Initiative, an organization designed to help protect healthy communication from the influences of technology. ASHA is not trying to ignore or eliminate technology, rather, they are teaching individuals how to maintain healthy communication skills in a technology-driven world.

Their Mission:

  • Provide practical advice for individuals and families to develop responsible tech habits
  • Create communication health awareness campaigns promoting balanced use of popular technology
  • Explore the impact of popular technology on healthy speech, language and hearing

The Statistics:

  • Researchers have found that every 30 minutes of daily screen use increased the risk of expressive speech delay in children ages 6 months to 2 years by almost 50%
  • 44% of children under the age of 6 would rather play a game on a technology device than read a book or be read to
  • The average amount of time spent on a mobile device per day by children under 8 is 48 minutes
  • Nearly 50% of 12 to 35-year-olds are exposed to unsafe sound levels from the use of personal audio devices
  • 68% of 2-year-olds use tablets at home
  • 78% of teens check their devices at least hourly
  • 4 out of 5 smartphone users check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up

Tips for Managing Kids’ Safe Tech Usage:

  • Find at least one or two opportunities during the day, at the dinner table, for example, to create tech-free times
  • Resist overreliance on technology to pacify boredom and plan other activates to keep young children entertained
  • Don’t overestimate the value of educational apps, children learn best through talking, conversing and reading
  • Make tech use a group activity, such as while playing an online game
  • Consider whether young kids really need their own devices, and try ones with features that limit content and provide extra security
  • Set daily time limits and enforce them through devices that automatically turn off or keeping track yourself
  • Be consistent in enforcing the parameters you set for tech use
  • Always practice safe listening, especially when using ear buds or headphones
  • Model the safe tech habits you want your kids to adopt
  • Learn the signs of communication disorders and seek an assessment from a speech-language pathologist if you have any questions or concerns

For more information on ASHA’s Healthy Communication & Popular Technology Initiative visit their website at https://communicationandtech.org/

Mary C. MA CF-SLP, TSSLD

References

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2019). Healthy communication & popular technology initiative. Retrieved from https://communicationandtech.org/

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