It May be time for a “Digital Diet”

Enrichment Therapies

May 7, 2019

Child looking at tablet

By Kelsey Coaldrake, M.A. CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

May is Better Speech and Hearing Month! This means it’s the perfect time of year to spread awareness about communication! The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Healthy Communication & Popular Technology Initiative aims to safeguard healthy communication in a technology-driven world. Although there are many benefits to technology, there can also be risks to a child’s development depending on their age, the amount of time they spend using technology, and the type of technology they are interacting with.

Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics

18 months and younger

-Avoid digital media use, with the exception of video chatting
-Research shows that live video chatting with a responsive adult can promote word learning
*The World Health Organization released guidelines on April 24, 2019, that state NO screen time is recommended at this age.

18-24 months

-Children may co-view digital media with a caregiver so the child and caregiver can interact with the media and relate it to real life
-Research shows that children do not learn language and cognitive skills from traditional media as they do from interactions with caregivers
*The World Health Organization recommends less is better and NO more than 1 hour per day of screen time.

2-5 years

-Limit to 1 hour per day
-Co-viewing is recommended
-High-quality programs and applications (evidence shows Sesame Street and PBS can aid in teaching preschoolers literacy skills)
-Beware of “educational” applications without evidence to support them (Higher-Order thinking skills are best taught through social play and parent-child responsive interactions)
-Avoid eBooks with interactive enhancements that may decrease comprehension because of distractions and lack of parent-child interactions while reading
*The World Health Organization recommends less is better and NO more than 1 hour per day of screen time.

School-Age and Adolescents

-Place consistent limits on the amount of time spent with digital media as well as the types of digital media
-Restrict device-use in the child’s bedroom
-Digital media viewing while completing homework should be discouraged
-Avoid screen time 1 hour before bed

4 Take-Aways

  1. Create a technology plan that is consistent and reasonable. You can use this tool from to help create a plan that takes into account time and place constraints. You may select tech-free zones in your house or tech-free times of day, such as dinner time.
  2. Set an example by managing your own technology use to achieve a healthy balance. Tech-free times of day and zones should be tech-free for everyone.
  3. When using technology, use it for communication. Two of the greatest benefits of technology are communication and creativity. Try to select digital media that allows you to interact with your children, allows them to interact with their peers, or provides an opportunity for them to be creative.
  4. Always prioritize sleep, exercise, play, reading aloud, and social interactions over technology and digital media use.


(1) Council On Communications And Media. “Media and Young Minds.” Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 Nov. 2016,
(2) Council On Communications And Media. “Media Use in School-Aged Children and Adolescents.” Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 Nov. 2016,
(3) Wallace, Kelly. “Babies’ Speech Delays Could Be Linked to Mobile Devices.” CNN, Cable News Network, 4 May 2017,
(4) Tamana, Sukhpreet K., et al. “Screen-Time Is Associated with Inattention Problems in Preschoolers: Results from the CHILD Birth Cohort Study.” PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science,


Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs.  At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success.  Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.

740 Community Drive, Unit A

North Liberty, IA 52317


5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300

Johnston, IA 50131


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