By Leslie Terjesen on Tuesday, April 26, 2016

“Two-year old children are working hard to walk, run, speak, and play,” said Ocean County Freeholder Deputy Director Gerry P. Little, Liaison to the Ocean County Board of Health.  “But did you know that more than two-thirds of 2-year-olds are also using tablets, more than half play with a parent or sibling’s smart phone and 1 in 4 are using some form of technology at the dinner table?”


            “May is recognized at Better Hearing and Speech Month,” said Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department (OCHD) Public Health Coordinator.  He added, “In a recent survey by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, it found more than half of the parents surveyed have concerns about the potential negative impact of technology use affecting the ability of young children to communicate.  Even with the advances in technology, it is essential that children have sufficient opportunities to develop their vocabulary and communication skills by listening, talking, reading and interacting with their parents and others, for which there is no substitute. Other findings are:

  • 24% of 2-year-olds use technology at the dinner table which is a time for interaction that fosters strong communication development. It is also a time for family sharing and bonding.
  • By age 6, 44% of children would rather play a game on a technology device than read a book or be read to.
  • By age 8, a majority of children would prefer to use technology when spending time with a family member or friend.
  • More than half the parents’ surveyed say they use technology to keep ages 0-3 entertained, nearly 50% of parents of children age 8 report they often rely on technology to prevent behavior problems and tantrums.

There is no substitute —technological or otherwise — to developing vocabulary and communication skills through real conversations.  Listening, talking, reading and interacting with their parents and others is the best and only way children can build a sound foundation for a lifetime of communication.  Even while driving, short or long distances, parents may want to use the time to converse with their child.  It is important to take advantage of every chance to build strong communication skills.  Some other tips to for parents:

  • Listen and respond to your child
  • Talk  (and use lots of different words), read, and play with your child
  • Talk with your child in the language you are most comfortable using
  • Know it is good to teach your child to speak a second language
  • Talk about what you are doing and what your child is doing
  • Use longer sentences as your child gets older and encourage your child to put words together
  • Have your child play with other children

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