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How Can I Use Apps to Encourage My Child’s Language Development?

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Children’s Speech Therapy Center

Research presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting this year stated that children under the age of two who begin to use devices like smartphones, tablets, and electronic games before beginning to talk may be at a higher risk for expressive language delays. However, as your children surpass that age, technology has become a tool that children are exposed to at a young age. Understandably, parents and educators are concerned about excessive technology use, even though it’s use as a motivator is recognized.

There are many ways that you can work with technology to enhance your child’s language. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently emphasized the value of joint parent-child app play vs. unsupervised access to technology. In this model, parents are able to use apps with their children in an interactive way.

Apps like ones from Dr. Panda allow many opportunities for you and your child to narrate a situation, provide age-appropriate vocabulary, and use inference or predicting. You can also use your own photos to help give your child visual cues when retelling an experience (e.g., take pictures of your entire day when visiting the zoo, so that your child can talk about their day to others in a cohesive story, using the pictures as a visual cue). Simple e-books can be used in the same manner as children’s books at home. Pause often to talk about what is happening in the story, point out relevant vocabulary, and relate story elements to your own life.

The PBS Parents Play and Learn app provides parents the ability to interact with their child while working through teachable moments. The apps that you are using with your child should have more limited sound effects, providing you and your child the opportunity to provide the language. Smart Apps for Kids is a blog that will provide parents with information on different educational apps and will categorize them.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center, affiliated with Sesame Workshop encourages parents to ask the following questions to determine if an app is valuable to your family and your child’s development:

• Does the app encourage my child to explore their interests and develop their creative play?
• Does the app encourage my child to be active?
• Does it provide opportunities for my child to talk or for our family to create and communicate together?
• Does the app prepare us for new experiences or bridge activities across spaces (e.g., school and home)?
• Does the app help us connect to distant family and friends?

Although technology use has become commonplace, it’s still important to limit your child’s access and to find a variety of motivational tools for them. Model good technology behaviors and practice moderation, particularly during “family time.” Put tech devices in “time out” in other room during family time to resist the temptation to answer messages, check emails, or engage in mindless surfing. Listen safely by teaching your children to keep the volume low on ear buds, reducing any noise related hearing loss and make sure your family has time together daily where personal interaction is the focus.

If you have any further questions regarding language development and technology, please don’t hesitate to call our office at (703) 723-7270.

Alicia McFadden M.A., CCC-SLP, CSTC Co-Director


Children’s Speech Therapy Center (CSTC) is a well-known private practice specializing in pediatric speech therapy and conveniently located in Ashburn, VA. When your child needs a speech and language professional, navigating all your options can be time-consuming and frustrating!

Let Children’s Speech Therapy Center help! Their team provides diagnostic and therapeutic services including screenings, evaluations, and therapy for all ages, from infancy to adolescence. From more routine challenges to complex conditions, their team of licensed and accredited speech language pathologists are prepared to help with your child's unique speech and language needs.

Learn more, including what insurances they accept, by connecting: Online | Facebook | Services | FAQs | Contact.

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