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Is Too Much Screen Time Bad for Speech and Language Development?
This is article 2 in the “Impact of Technology on Childhood Development” series. If you missed article 1, it covers the Hidden Dangers of Blue Light and Digital Devices to Children’s Eyes.
At the age of three and a half, my friend showed signs of delayed speech development. As parents, they did what any concerned parent would do and took her to her pediatrician.
Let me back up and tell you more about what they experienced.
They have a three-and-a-half-year-old little boy who is looking for the classic “schoolboy feeling”; he just can’t get enough of anything and is extremely retarded in his speech and social skills.
Like many of his peers, he is very good at using a tablet and a cell phone.
At first, I thought it was incredible to watch her little fingers curl around the family iPad or mom’s cell phone, swiping between tabs to get to a particularly fun video or “educational” game.
She hits play and lets out a squeal of delight and pure pleasure. After watching a video once or playing a few rounds of a game, he slides back to the home screen to open another app where he watches an episode of a colorful animated cartoon. Halfway through, it switches to another game in which animated fruits enter the character’s stomach.
When they try to take the iPad, they suffer a nuclear-threatening tantrum; a quivering lip, tears, feet kicking the ground, hands turning into fists, and loud screaming.
He seems to prefer an iPad or smartphone above all else.
There are times when they are the only thing that will keep him quiet.
He has what appear to be signs of autism, but the autism specialist they take him to doesn’t want him fully screened until he’s 4. She could already tell that her son was not fully adapting to autism. believes that if they wait, the correct diagnosis will be made.
Based on what they read, his parents think he might be diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), which affects one in twenty people in the general population and tends to be inherited.
The origin of Sensory Processing Disorder is unknown. Early research and studies suggest that SPD is often hereditary.
No family runs SPD and it does not fit the symptomatic profile except for very few symptoms.
Another thought they have is that he has Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS); Symptoms of PPD-NOS include:
• Inappropriate social behavior
• Uneven skill development (motor, sensory, visual-spatial-organizational, cognitive, social, academic, behavioral)
• Poorly developed speech and language comprehension skills
• Difficulty with transitions
• Lack of non-verbal and/or verbal communication
• Increased or decreased sensitivity to taste, sight, sound, smell, and/or touch
• Perseverative (repetitive or ritualistic) behaviors (ie, repeatedly opening and closing doors or turning lights on and off).
He is extremely active physically (especially with constant physical activity, running and jumping), does not follow instructions well, which I attribute to lack of discipline, but is friendly with his family and relatives, good eye contact.
He has a huge appetite and eats anything put in front of him, and does well in crowds and generally around others as long as he doesn’t need direct interaction because his verbal skills and social skills, such as manners and such, are not developed. . His fine motor skills are good, not great. Like a two-year-old child, he can’t hold a pencil, he punches it with a pencil.
His verbal skills and social skills are poorly developed.
He understands more than he lets on. He doesn’t imitate sounds or vocabulary much, at least.
His parents know he is cognitively delayed, but it’s hard to tell how much because he’s the type of child he is and his lack of discipline, so I don’t think he’s had time for his parents to develop.
The only word he uses consistently and appropriately is “pop,” and he points excitedly at his grandfather whenever he gets the chance. He often babbles, which is baby talk that consists of words but not complete spoken sentences. So his vocabulary is limited and seems like what he hears in video games and YouTube. He seems to have no concept of putting words to a picture other than what he sees in videos or “educational games”.
From everything they read about sensory seekers, extreme speech delay is not particularly common.
They recently had their son examined by an occupational therapist and a speech therapist.
During the assessments, he was asked how much screen time he had per day. They estimate that it takes an average of 45-60 minutes a day; From what I have observed, I believe it is higher and closer to 90 minutes during the day.
A tablet / iPad / Android or smartphone has replaced the sitter and one-on-one interaction. We all lead busy lives and the few minutes of downtime it afforded seemed harmless, or so they thought.
The speech therapist showed them data from a recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics: “Handheld screen time associated with speech delays in young children.” “The more time children under 2 spend playing with smartphones, tablets and other handheld screens, the more likely they are to start talking later,” the study found.
“According to research, 20 percent of children under the age of two spend about 30 minutes a day using screens, which increases the risk of speech delay by about 50 percent.”
This study was completed by pediatricians at the Hospital for Sick Children in Canada, who examined screen time and its effects on 900 children aged 6 months to two years.
The study found that for every additional 30 minutes spent using a touchscreen, whether it was a tablet, iPad, iPhone or Android device, the likelihood of speech delay increased by 49%.
Think about this for a few minutes:
• 10% of US children under the age of 2 used a tablet or smartphone in 2011, the one-year anniversary of the iPad’s launch.
• By 2013, 40% of children 2 and younger had access to a tablet or smartphone.
• By 2015, 58% of children under the age of two used a tablet or mobile phone.
According to Nielsen Research, more than 70 percent of children under the age of 12 use tablets and iPads. A recent Journal of Pediatrics study found that:
• 20% of 1-year-old children own a tablet.
• 28% of 2-year-olds could navigate a mobile device without assistance.
• 28% of parents said they use a mobile device to put their child to sleep.
The rate of adoption of tablets, iPads and smartphones by children under the age of 3 has increased more than 5-fold in 4 years, with an unknown impact on their cognitive development.
There is little scientific data on the consequences of prolonged use of tablets, iPads and smartphones; although investigations are ongoing.
Optometrists are seeing a sharp increase in young children with myopia. The World Health Organization has documented that nearsightedness is increasing at an alarming rate worldwide, and screen use is a well-accepted contributing factor to the early introduction of handheld devices to children.
Interactive screens such as iPads, tablets, and smartphones are known to disrupt sleep. The blue light emitted by super-sharp displays suppresses the release of melatonin, an important sleep hormone that disrupts the body’s natural rhythms, and their use causes sleep disorders in both adults and children.
Blue light is harmful because it is the highest energy wavelength of visible light. This energy can also penetrate through the eye’s natural filters to the back of the eye, and that’s the point. Long-term exposure damages the retina.
Currently, there is extensive, in-depth research on television exposure and children, but little in-depth, long-term research on the effects of interactive screens from smartphones, iPads, and Android tablets. Investigations are currently underway; but the jury is still out.
Pediatricians and child development experts agree that while 30 minutes of passive screen time in front of a TV, iPad, or tablet for video games or “educational” games is fun, it won’t provide a rich learning experience. develop fine or gross motor skills. And there are developmental and cognitive risks.
Studies have confirmed that having a video or TV in the background while children are playing and learning has a negative impact on their development. It distracts from work and reduces their concentration.
Studies have confirmed that hours of TV in the background reduces child-parent interaction, which stunts a child’s language development.
This is a major concern: if children are left with screen-based nannies like tablets, iPads and smartphones, they are not connecting with parents, siblings or the real world.
There are only so many hours in the day, and screen time comes at a high cost, taking time away from better activities that develop fine and gross motor skills, expand knowledge and skill sets, develop social skills, and expand oral language. skills.
Children under three need a well-balanced set of activities, from guided play (maths worksheets/games, coloring pages, puzzles and games, arts and crafts), time to explore nature, and handling and playing with physical toys. communication with adults as well as other siblings and peers.
In 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published guidelines on screen time. Prior to this update, the AAP set a limit of total screen time in front of the television for children age 2 and older to no more than two hours per day.
The revised AAP guidelines recommend:
• One hour per day for children from 2 to 5 years old.
• Parents should supervise and set limits for children 6 years of age and older.
• Children under the age of 18 months should not be allowed screen time and should not be exposed to any digital media.
o A baby’s brain, eyes and speech are in a phase of rapid growth and development, which makes them most vulnerable to screens.
Any time spent using tablets, iPads, or smartphones for entertainment purposes is what the AAP defines as screen time.
As parents, we must not forget that we are our children’s main role models, so we directly and indirectly instill the habits we have in our children.
We have to be very conscious of our behavior and that means turning off our smart phones, putting down the tablet or iPad with the TV and laptop and being with our children in the here and now.
Kids can tell our head is still in the email we’re reading on our phone. Ignoring them usually makes their behavior worse.
As parents, we need to create media free time every day and devote 100% of that time to our children and being engaged with them. No smartphones, iPads, Android tablets or phones at the dinner table. It’s family time. The same goes for all bedrooms. Bedrooms are designed for sleeping.
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