Study Shows Screen Time Can Cause Speech Delays in Baby

Say what?
save article
profile picture of Kelly Corbett
Updated May 5, 2017
two sibling boys watching tablet device

We already knew that too much screen time isn’t the best thing for baby (or us, for that matter). But a study pinpointed a specific consequence: delayed speech development in toddlers.

At the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, some striking findings were announced concerning a relationship never before examined: the effect of screen time on speech development. In a study involving nearly 900 children, parents were asked to report the amount of time their child spent using screens in minutes per day at 18 months old. On average, 20 percent of kids spent 28 minutes a day. Researchers evaluated this against a variety of things involving speech development, including whether sounds or words were used to get attention or help, the ability to put words together and the number of words spoken.

The conclusion was alarming: Every additional 30 minutes of screen time per day was linked to a 49 percent increased risk of “expressive speech delay,” which involves problems using sounds and words to communicate. The study did not, however, find any link between use of a handheld device and other areas of communication, such as gestures, body language and social interaction.

The American Academy of Pediatrics already advises restricted screen time for young children. Their guidelines state:

  • For babies under 18 months, video-chatting is okay (here’s how Facetime can help baby learn), but otherwise, no screen time is recommended.
  • For babies 18 months or older, high-quality, educational programming can be beneficial. Parents watching and interacting with baby at the same time is also advised.
  • For kids 2 to 5, screen time should be capped at one hour of high-quality programing a day.
  • For kids 6 and older, rules should be established about what kind of media can be consumed and for how long to assure it won’t interfere with physical activity and sleep.

These guidelines come with the stipulation that screen time should be a collaborative learning experience.

"What’s most important is that parents be their child’s ‘media mentor.’ That means teaching them how to use it as a tool to create, connect and learn,” said Jenny Radesky, MD, FAAP, lead author of the new media policy statement on infants and toddlers, said in a press release.

Looking for ways to encourage your little one’s speech development? Check out these tips.


Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

save article
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List

Next on Your Reading List

mom and child holding hands outside on summer day
Pediatric Nurse Shares 5 Summer Activities She'd Never Let Her Kids Do
By Wyndi Kappes
mom teaching baby how to swim in pool
Kids' Drowning Deaths Increase for First Time in Decades, CDC Reports
By Wyndi Kappes
baby wearing a life jacket while sitting on paddle board in water with mom
5 Best Infant Life Jackets, Tested by a Dad and Baby
By Daniel Willon
crate and barrel hampshire cribs recall
Why Crate & Barrel Is Recalling Its Hampshire Cribs
By Wyndi Kappes
Gain Tide laundry detergent display inside lowe's store
8.2 Million Bags of Tide and Gain Pods Recalled Over Child Safety
By Wyndi Kappes
comfi baby infant walkers recall
The CPSC Asks Parents to Stop Using Comfi Baby Infant Walkers
By Wyndi Kappes
Fisher Price Little People Mickey and Friends Figures recall due to choking hazard
Fisher-Price Recalls Little People Mickey and Friends Figures
By Wyndi Kappes
young child holding gummies
Study Finds 420% Uptick in Child ER Visits Due to Melatonin Poisoning
By Wyndi Kappes
jool baby nova infant swing recall 2024
Why Jool Baby Is Recalling Its Nova Baby Swings
By Wyndi Kappes
happy mom holding baby during winter in the snow
11 Essential Winter Safety Tips for Baby
Medically Reviewed by Dina DiMaggio Walters, MD
lovevery slide and seek ball runs recall
Lovevery Recalls 47,000 Slide & Seek Ball Runs Due to Choking Hazard
By Wyndi Kappes
laundry detergent pods poison risk for children
Detergent Pods Remain Significant Threat to Kids, Study Shows
By Wyndi Kappes
Baby Walkers-hero
Are Baby Walkers Safe? Here’s the Deal
By Christin Perry
toddler climbing up stairs in home
8 Baby Safety Myths Busted by Pediatricians
Medically Reviewed by Lauren Crosby, MD
toddler opening christmas gifts on christmas morning
Doctor's Viral Video Reveals Top 5 Gifts That Land Kids in the ER
By Wyndi Kappes
Bugaboo Dragonfly Seat Strollers recall
Bugaboo Recalls Dragonfly Seat Strollers Due to Injury Risk
By Wyndi Kappes
mother kissing baby's face while sitting on grass outside
When Can Newborns Go Outside?
Medically Reviewed by Loretta Cody, MD
baby wearing a santa hat playing with christmas tree ornaments
14 Need-to-Know Holiday Safety Tips
Medically Reviewed by Lauren Crosby, MD
family opening christmas presents
This Toy Was Responsible for the Most ER Visits Last Year
By Wyndi Kappes
father buckling baby into car seat in the car
Can You Uber With Baby? What to Know When Ridesharing With Little Ones
Fact Checked by Denise Porretto
Article removed.