‘Technoference’ limits parent-child interactions

We know that a rich language environment, particularly in the home, is one of the most significant predicters of educational and developmental outcomes in a child’s life. With the rising use of screens all around us, one of the simplest things we can do to nurture a child’s development – talking and conversation – is at risk. 

A recent South Australian study conducted by fellow Early Years Taskforce members at the Telethon Kids Institute found that every extra minute of screen time a child is exposed to means they are hearing 6 less words from adults around them and saying 5 less words themselves by the age of 3.

With an average screen time of just under 3 hours at this age, children could be missing out on hearing more than 1,000 words a day. This is what researchers are calling ‘technoference’ – the idea that screens are interrupting or limiting interactions between parents or caregivers and their children.

While eliminating screen time completely may be unrealistic for modern families, it can be used as an opportunity for ‘interactive co-viewing’. When caregivers watch content with a child and talk about what is happening on the screen, or sing and dance along with the theme tune they are still engaging in those important back and forth interactions and working to counter the negative effects of screen time. 

Learn more here: Study shows screen time is replacing vital language opportunities for toddlers (telethonkids.org.au)

Read full academic article here: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2815514