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Study Shows Letting a Baby Play On a Tablet Can Cause Speech Delays

Modern day parents have the added pressure of navigating technology in their child’s life and most have likely worried about the negative effects that screen time can have. A new study presented at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting this week says that there may, in fact, be some alarming effects. The research, led by Dr. Catherine Birken, discovered a connection between screen time from tablets and phones and speech delays in children ages six months to two years. Parents of nearly 900 children shared the amount of minutes their children spent using screens per day at 18 months with researchers who then assessed the child’s language development. They looked at a variety of speech indicators including the child’s vocabulary and whether they use sounds or words to get attention or help.

The results found that for every 30-minute increase in daily screen time, there was a 49% increased risk in “expressive speech delay” — otherwise known as using sounds and words. It’s important to point out that this research did not find any connections between other areas of communication like body language and social skills. Birken also caution that much more research is needed to definitive say that these devices are causing speech delays.