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Technology Distracts Children from Reading and Conversation

Technology Distracts Children from Reading and Conversation

Reading and conversation are crucial for language development in children. Technology has also become a near-ubiquitous part of modern life. Unfortunately, a recent poll released by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and Read Aloud 15 MINUTES shows that more than one-third of parents report that popular technology use by their children routinely takes away from daily reading and conversing, activities that foster brain and communication development.

Reading aloud is the single most important activity that parents can do to prepare their children for reading and learning. Recent research discovered that the gap in early brain development between children whose parents read to them and those who do not shows up as early as age 3. Read Aloud 15 MINUTES launched a ten-year National Campaign in 2013 to make reading aloud every day for at least fifteen minutes starting at birth the national caregiving standard.

Explains ASHA 2018 President Elise Davis-McFarland, PhD, CCC-SLP: “We know the vast majority of brain development occurs in the first 3 years of life-a foundational time for a child’s speech/language and social development. We also know that this development is fueled by daily opportunities for children to talk, read, sing, and play with parents and others.”

Published on April 10, 2018, the Read Aloud 15 MINUTES/ASHA Popular Technology Survey Report investigated parents between the ages of 18 and 65 who have a child in the household between the ages of 0 and 8. The study sought to understand the effects of technology on conversation, human interaction, and reading. Questions presented in the study were a part of a larger survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,022 households in the United States conducted by YouGov that sought to gauge the current state of American families to read aloud, their understanding of brain development, and the central role reading aloud can play.

Technology is commonplace in American households with young children. Smartphones, TVs, and computers are present in 80% of homes with children between the ages of 0 and 8. Tablets are present in 70% of households and video game systems in 55%. Additionally, 38% of children between the ages of 0 and 2, 39% between the ages of 3 and 5, and 45% between the ages of 6 and 8 use a smartphone while 27% of children between the ages of 3 and 5 and 45% between the ages of 6 and 8 use a gaming system connected to a television.

According to the survey, 34% of parents reported that popular tech devices take away reading time for their child. More specifically, 26% parents of children between the ages of 0 and 2 stated that technology negatively affected reading. The figures increased to 37% for children between the ages of 3 and 5 and 40% for children between the ages of 6 and 8.

The poll found that 43% of the parents said popular technology devices are a barrier/distraction to conversation and interaction between themselves and their children. Additionally, 54% reported that they “sometimes,” “often,” or “very often” ask their children to put down their devices in an attempt to increase parent/child interaction. More specifically, 37% of parents of children between the ages of 0 and 2, 58% with children between the ages of 3 and 5, and 67% with children between the ages of 6 and 8 reported asking their children to put down technology.

Comments Davis-McFarland: “While apps may be able to teach new words or help children reinforce certain skills-and they certainly can occupy children-developmental benefit comes from genuine human interaction. So, while device usage itself may not necessarily be problematic, we do have concern if the time spent on them is taking time away from those vital daily interactions-as many parents are indicating. We urge parents to promote a healthy balance.”

The study also found that children are not the only technology enthusiasts. Half of the parents reported that their devices take away from their own personal reading time. More alarmingly, 41% of the parents said that their children sometimes (or more often) ask them to put down their devices and interact with them.

The critical nature of daily reading and conversation also extends beyond the baby and toddler years, but the study found that reading aloud by parents decreases as children age. Among the parents polled, 51% reported reading aloud daily to children between the ages of 0 and 2, 41% to children between the ages of 3 and 5, and 35% between the ages of 6 and 8.

Said Read Aloud President and Co-Founder Dr. Candace Kendle: “An area of alarm for us is the documented decrease in daily reading aloud among children ages 6-8 in the United States. This drop corresponds with our new poll showing an increase in usage of almost every type of mobile device among 6-8 year olds, as compared to the younger age set. We must ensure device time is not replacing time for reading aloud with these children, who are approaching or are at a pivotal point in their academic careers-when grade-level reading is required to advance beyond 3rd grade and high-stakes testing is occurring.”

Does Reading Aloud Really Matter? Infographic

Read the full report online at Read Aloud 15 MINUTES/ASHA Popular Technology Survey Report.

References

Read Aloud 15 MINUTES/ASHA Popular Technology Survey Report: https://s3.amazonaws.com/asha-website/Read_Aloud_Report_+ASHA_Report+6-18-18.pdf

Image Credits

Technology Distracts Children from Reading and Conversation: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Child_with_Apple_iPad.jpg
Does Reading Aloud Really Matter? Infographic: http://www2.readaloud.org/importance

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