Kids and Screens: Screen Time Can Be Shared Time

Screens and technology are all around us, therefore it is time to work out how we can help screen time support language and communication in the best way possible. Each parent will make their own choices about the media their child uses, however there are ways to take the best of both worlds and create opportunities to communicate and share some super speaking together. 

3 Questions to Ask When Choosing Screen Time Activities for Your Toddler

When choosing what onscreen activities to engage with, it is worth thinking about these things:

  1. Can I do this WITH my child?
  2. Can the activity spark language and conversation?
  3. Do I hear my child communicating and playing with language during this activity?

We recommend parents to find screen time activities that are high quality and that if possible, can involve a parent to help the child understand what they are seeing and to help them to apply it to the world around them.

Get Involved in Your Child’s Screen Time

If your child enjoys watching programmes and videos, get involved and watch it with them. Model simple language of what they are watching. Spark conversation by asking them about what you are seeing. Then bring it to life by relating it to their experiences and exploring it further in real life situations. 

How to engage with your child? Let’s say you are watching a programme about a zoo. Model the animal names, ask what noises the animal makes, find out the child’s animal toys to look at while they are watching and find a related book to look up the animals they have spotted in the programme. 

Get involved in screen time with your kids.
Use screens, apps and games as an opportunity to teach your child how to take turns and play as a team.

Always Choose Educational Content

If your child enjoys using apps there a lot of fantastic options to choose from including Speech Blubs. Communication focussed apps such a Speech Blubs are already bursting with language opportunities for your child. They model language, show pictures and videos of the vocabulary to give context, and encourage practice and repetition. To make the most of the activities join in using these apps with your child, encouraging them when they find it tricky, praising them when they try something they find hard, join in with the games and model language to them as you go along. You can also chat together about what you have been doing and relate it to your families day to day experiences.

How to engage with your child? Have fun copying the early sounds and words together, letting your child see your face. Take pictures with the face filters on Speech Blubs. Explore new vocabulary on the Speech Blubs App and then go find the items in real life, e.g. clothes or household items. Learn new Nursery Rhymes on Speech Blubs and then sing them when you are out and about in the car. Read more tips and tricks on how to play with Speech Blubs.

Take Turns, Play as a Team and Talk About It

If your child enjoys games on your devices then get involved in the fun. Games create an opportunity for turn-taking, talking about winning and losing, learning to wait for your go, problem-solving and working as a team. Find games where you can play against each other or work as a team. Get other family members and siblings involved to create great games that are filled with super language and communication opportunities. 

How to engage with your child? Play animal pairs to practice visual memory, model vocabulary and build category knowledge. Play racing games to model “ready steady go!”, directional language (left, right, up, down, etc.)  and transport vocabulary (car, bike, wheel, etc). Play a drawing game to support movement control whilst modelling the names of colours and shapes, guessing what each other is drawing and describing what you can see. 

Use screen time as a tool to play and model conversation.
Smart screen devices can be used as an educational tool to spark conversation and develop language.

How to Spark Conversation When Allowing Screen Time

  • Encourage requests. Locking devices or putting them out of reach means your child has to come and ask you before they can use them, allowing you the opportunity to get involved.
  • Set the rules. If they want to use it independently, maybe bring in a rule to have 10 minutes doing something together on the device before they can have it for 10 minutes independently.
  • Create opportunity for quality one on one time. Using fun and interesting activities, games, and apps that involve two people will encourage them to share their screen time with you.

“My two year old had it for less than a week and he’s already saying more”

Mariah C., Mom