Online Speech Therapy versus Screen Time 

Online Speech Therapy versus Screen Time 

Online Speech Therapy versus Screen Time

Online Speech Therapy, I give mobile-only during eating. Otherwise, he will not eat. So I give him for about three hours in a day only while eating.” This is a very common statement by mothers of young children who resort to showing the screen to feed their otherwise difficult kid. One of the biggest challenges in parenting these days is the screen time that children are getting addicted to.

But in no time it changes from being an alternate to an addiction. We have several studies that support that screen time has a hazardous effect not only on the speech and language development of the child but also on overall brain development.

Below are some of the observations which have been made due to prolonged screen time:

  • In clinical practice, we have encountered many such children who have language delay owing to prolonged screen time.  Many such children have features resembling that of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
  • With prolonged screen time, communication skills are restricted along with poor social skills. We see children who are reported to sing rhymes and verbally imitate various cartoon characters but have difficulty in telling their name, responding to name, lack of social smile, and play behavior.
  • Thus it is evident that screen exposure is doing much more harm than any benefits to the children.

Many times when this is explained to the parents, they ask a question how much is too much?A simple way to answer this is how much communication is happening at that time. What is the child watching? Is it age-appropriate? Is it only watching what the child is doing or there is any thinking and cognitive activity involved? Answering these questions would give you the difference between screen time and online speech therapy. Answering this is very important as many parents confuse online speech therapy to screen time.

Lets first discuss the pros and cons of screen time.

Imagine a mother is cooking and to finish her works faster, she resolves to give an iPad/mobile/TV to a two-year-old toddler. The two-year-old sit watching some cartoons there for nearly two hours till the mother finishes all the works. She would probably be thinking it was easy as there was no messing up, no disturbance from the toddler, and work was very effectively done. Online Speech Therapy saves time and cost of travel. It promises better continued therapy overcoming situations like bad weather, traffic jams, unwell parents etc.

The work was done fast, there was no mess created, and everything in the kitchen is in place. Sounds perfect…isnt it? But in these two  hours what did the child miss? The child missed 2 hours of physical activity, two hours of interaction with the mother, two hours of incidental learning, and millions and millions of words that the child would have otherwise been exposed to if there was interaction with the mother and other significant family members.

The following are some of the common observations the screen is doing to the child.

  • When they are in front of the screen watching something, they get cut-off from the rest of the world. There is no listening, no talking, and above all no communication. If this is done on a day-to-day basis, we can imagine the amount of impact on the child.
  • Research pieces of evidence suggest that the number of words a child is exposed to before the age of 4 years decides the childs eventual IQ and academic outcomes.
  • Thus the early spoken language stimulation is very important for later cognitive and academic advancement. But if this is substituted by a gadget and there is minimal spoken language stimulation, we can imagine what consequences will be there? The same is happening with increased screen time.
  • Children are slow in language acquisition in addition to their cognitive advancement.

Many parents come up with questions like You recommend reduced screen time but advocate online speech and language sessions. Arent both the same?” The answer is NO. There are a clear difference and a huge difference between them both. This article is especially dedicated to differentiating between the two.

Lets now know what is online speech and language therapy.

The following points would give a very clear picture of what is Online Speech and Language therapy.
  • Online speech and language therapy is a Virtual Speech and Language Therapy mode wherein the same principles of speech and language therapy are used. 
  • It is tailor-made to an individuals specific needs and follows a hierarchy of normal speech and language development. 
  • Speech and language therapy which is delivered online is planned, follows a schedule based on the clients need, and is delivered by a qualified Speech-Language Pathologist. 
  • Your Speech-Language Pathologist decides what goals to take, which activity to plan, and how to elicit a particular response. 
  • In an online speech and language therapy session, through the service is delivered virtually there is a lot of spoken language stimulation is done. 
  • The goals which are taken are age-appropriate and activities to are planned in such a way that it elicits a particular response. 
  • A Speech-Language Pathologist during a virtual session uses materials that are unambiguous and is designed to elicit a particular response. 
  • A virtual platform also enables the child to get exposed to a variety of words, pictures, stories, and rhymes. 
  • The Speech Therapist involves the child in play activities in such a way that it elicits the desired response.

Here it is also important to know what online speech therapy is not. Speech therapy does not involve just showing some random videos to the child and playing some games online. Online Speech Therapy can be used with clients of many ages and ability levels. It is a great method of speech therapy for children, adolescents, adults and seniors. Online games and videos are used in speech therapy to elicit a particular response and are used for limited period of time.

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