Conversation is so critically important to your child's language and social skills development. We begin talking to our children the day they are born and they are hearing us talk to them in utero. We speak to our children long before they utter their first response to our talking or before they utter their first words. The practice is in the listening and hearing. As children develop language, the back and forth among people is important for them to be experiencing each day. Everyone the child is in relationship with develops language with one another. We include the baby/toddler in conversations and invite them into our world via speaking to them. As children grow and develop, the language conversation becomes more complicated and we realize how much they understand and how much they are taking in from each conversation.
What I am witnessing over the years now that technology and phones have entered into all of our families, is that children are missing out on important conversations. Last night, we had dinner with some friends at a local restaurant. I was deeply disturbed by a family who sat near us. They sat down at their table (they had 2 boys probably ages 2 and 3) and immediately, they each gave their boys a phone. They proceeded to be on the phone throughout the entire time there. The boys had their plates above the phone so they could look straight down at the phone while they ate. I share this not out of judgment, but to call parents to consider what you are doing if you are choosing to give your children your phone to keep them quiet, appease them, or just to keep them from throwing a fit. Children are not only missing out on conversations, but also on experiences-being at a restaurant, shopping at the grocery, driving in a car and noticing what is out their window. Children need to be having real experiences of life and they are not engaged or aware if they are on a phone completely oblivious to what's happening around them. Important pathways are built through real, concrete experiences. This is not happening when kids are on phones/computers/ipads. Not only are we keeping the pathways from developing, we're actually creating situations where children have a harder time focusing and paying attention-particularly children who have a tendency to struggle with these things already.
I can only imagine how difficult it is to set limits with phones etc since they're everywhere and such a part of all adults lives. But, I am calling parents to at least consider your usage of phones, technology etc and be aware of how much time your child is spending on these items. Maybe set up a schedule that works for your family or do what one of my family's did-lose the charger! This way your child isn't in a power struggle with you-it's simply doesn't work b/c it's not charged.