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Making the most of screen time


Many of us, I’m sure, have read warning posts about the detrimental impact of prolonged use of TVs, tablets and phones on a child’s development. However, in a year in which screens have seemingly become a necessary part of life, how can we make sure that we support our little ones in their screen time and ensure that they get more out of it?

Here are a few ways that you can make screen time more beneficial.

Tip 1: Join in! Simply talking about what your child can see on the screen using age appropriate vocabulary can support their language development and help them to engage more actively in what they’re watching. Discussing what they can see allows your child to practise using their language.

Tip 2: Become the student. Ask your child to explain what has happened in a programme so far. This will support them to use language about what they are seeing on the screen and help them to practice their sentence building and story telling skills. Be careful not to ask too many questions as your child could feel as if they are being ‘tested’ and lose interest in the interaction.

Tip 3: Make it come alive! Give your child opportunities to act out what they have seen on screen. This gives them a chance to experience what they have watched and can supports the development of their pretend play and language skills.

Tip 4: Limit the options. Rather than saying “Would you like some screen time?”, it can be helpful to give a closed choice of “this programme or that game”. That way you can make sure that they are engaging with the best a screen can offer.

Tip 5: Create boundaries. Setting limits on duration of screen time at the beginning of the session using a timer or parental controls on a tablet can really help to avoid inadvertent hours of watching. Having a designated place for screen time such as a particular table can also support in this endeavour as a child does not become accustomed to watching screens in every area of the house.

There’s lots of great games and TV shows out there that can support your child in their development and make sure that screen time isn’t wasted time, we’ll be talking about these in our next blog. 

Why not have a look at our other blogs on play for some ideas of other ways to entertain your child? You can also get lots of information on language on our support and advice pages

About the author

Catherine Oram, Speech and Language Therapist