Finnish research: Family screentime can obstruct development of language skills

Long time spent in front of the screens of electronic devices by parents and toddlers can obstruct language learning and verbal expression, according to research done by the Tampere University Hospital, Finnish public broadcaster YLE reports.
From 2013 to 2015, data on nearly 1,700 Finnish-speaking families, who agreed to take part in the project, was collected. The study examined the development of speech and linguistic expression in kids at 18 and 24 months of age, and found that as parents’ and their children’s use of electronic devices increased — so-called ‘screen time’ — the kids’ vocabularies decreased.
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To arrive at conclusions, the researchers asked parents to describe their child’s vocabulary, phrases, speech intelligibility. Other aspects were finger-pointing and instruction-following abilities. According to the results, some two thirds of the toddlers had vocabularies of no more than 20 words, while around a third spoke fewer than five words.
Marja Asikainen, the chief speech therapist at the university’s department of phoniatrics and the study’s lead author commented that the research results indicated that children’s vocabularies appeared to be developing more slowly than before, YLE reports.