A Little Less Conversation: The Effect of Busy Parents on a Child’s Ability to Talk

In society|BOOK on January 4, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Results published today from a YouGov survey suggest that playing digital games and watching television could decrease children’s ability to speak and understand language clearly.

Jean Gross, who has been coined the “communication champion” for children, claims that the less time children spend with their parents, the more likely they are to have difficulty in learning to talk.  The educational psychologist also expressed concern with study findings that communicate a risk of an increase in developmental disorders and crime, if children are not helped.

Furthermore, the results state that boys are twice as likely to struggle than girls. According to the survey, a quarter of all boys have language difficulties, whereas only 13% of girls share these problems. This is highlighted in relation to the first word spoken, as 34% of girls spoke their first word before reaching the age of 9 months, compared to 27% of boys. And considering that most first words were a reference to a parent i.e. “dada, daddy”, it is clear that parenting styles have high impact on language development.

Gross believes that children, “exposed to screens of all kinds” are suffering from a lack of face-to-face interaction with their parents, and that this could be significantly due to financial issues. Parents who provide their children with high-priced game consoles are automatically increasing the likelihood of spending more time away from their children.  Financial pressure has proved to be a notable factor in this investigation, as children from richer families were shown to enjoy story telling by parents more than children from less affluent families.

Following the study, only 54% of the children who had problems received help from a speech and language therapist but 23% of children received no help.

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