How to Manage Your Kid's Time with Technology | News | Loyola Medicine
Monday, June 15, 2015

Loyola speech therapists give parents tips for managing kids' tech time

MAYWOOD, Ill. (May 22 2015)  – The average 8-year-old in the United States uses more than three personal technology devices at home. These might include a tablet, smartphone, or video game console, according to a new poll of parents conducted by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). With even the youngest kids now “connected” via such technology, it is important to remember to manage tech time so it doesn’t overtake time for talking with children. 

“Talking to children in the first years of their life sets them up for academic and social success for a   lifetime,” says Kathleen Czuba, speech/language therapist at Loyola University Health System. “Studies link the number and variety of words a child hears and later academic achievement.”  
Here are communication tips from the Speech Therapy Department at Loyola University Medical Center.
  1. Create tech-free times. “Find at least one or two opportunities during the day—at the dinner table, for example—for everyone to disconnect, “ says Czuba. “Mealtime is a prime opportunity for conversation. Make a commitment and have everyone check their devices at the kitchen door.”    
  2. Resist overreliance on technology to pacify boredom. Fifty-five percent of parents worry that they rely on technology too much to keep their child entertained, according to the ASHA poll. Roughly half of parents say that they are using technology as a means to keep kids age 0–3 entertained. “Remember that the best opportunities for conversation and learning are often found in situations that may be viewed as boring, such as while running errands or on a long car trip—particularly for the youngest children,“ says Czuba. “While it may be tempting, try to resist the urge to immediately turn to these devices as a source of entertainment.”    
  3. Don't overestimate the value of educational apps. “Children learn best simply through talking, conversing, and reading,” says Czuba. “Technology is not the best way to teach, though it can reinforce and allow practice of skills under development.”  
  4. Make tech use a group activity. Czuba says, “While it is most often used on an individual basis, tech use can be turned into a group activity, such as while playing an online game. Talk about what you’re doing!”    
  5. Consider whether young kids really need their own devices. It is not uncommon for kids to have their own tablets or mp3 players. Many are designed and marketed specifically for kids. This may lead to more time spent alone with technology throughout the day. “Devices designed for kids often offer additional features that appeal to parents, such as limited (kid-appropriate) content and extra security options, so this is a balance for parents to consider,” says Czuba.    
  6. Set daily time limits. “Certain devices can be programmed by parents to shut off after a certain amount of time,” says Czuba. “But you can also make a child aware of the time limit and keep track yourself.”    
  7. Be consistent in enforcing the parameters you set for tech use. “ASHA’s poll found a majority of parents report setting limits on their children’s tech use, “ says Czuba. “However, the reality of their children’s tech use often doesn’t line up with the set restrictions, by parents’ own accounts. Moreover, adherence often seems to break down at ages 7 or 8 despite the rules parents say they set.”      
  8. Always practice safe listening, especially when using ear buds or headphones. Misuse of this technology can lead to noise-induced hearing loss. “Even minor hearing loss takes a significant toll academically, socially, vocationally, and in other ways, so prevent the preventable,” says Czuba. “Teach kids to keep the volume down (a good guide is half volume) and take listening breaks.”   
  9. Model the tech habits you want your kids to adopt. “Practice what you preach when it comes to tech time and safe-listening habits,” says Czuba.     
  10. Learn the signs of communication disorders. This is important for all parents, regardless of their children’s technology use. “Early treatment can prevent or reverse many communication disorders. Parents should not wait to see if a child “outgrows” a suspected speech or hearing problem,” says Czuba. “If you have any question about your child’s speech or hearing, seek an assessment from a speech-language pathologist or audiologist.” Learn more at  
Loyola speech and language pathologists provide evaluation and therapy services for individuals with communication, cognitive and/or swallowing impairments. Patients range in age from newborns through the elderly. Loyola's experienced, certified and licensed speech/language pathologists are committed to  speech impairment prevention, rehabilitation and education. 
Participants with a variety of diagnoses can benefit from Loyola comprehensive speech and language therapy treatments, including those with:
  • Burns
  • Head and Neck Cancer
  • Neurological disorders resulting in need for cognitive retraining, aphasia therapy, and/or swallowing intervention
  • Dysphagia (swallowing/feeding) disorders
  • Motor speech disorder (dysarthria, apraxia of speech)
  • Organic and functional voice disorders
  • Tracheotomy/Ventilator swallowing and speaking valves
Loyola programs emphasize an individualized approach with tailored treatments. Both inpatient and outpatient speech and language therapy services for children are provided through the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Caring for children offers unique challenges. Treatments may include:
  • Enhancing oral-motor/swallowing skills
  • Establishing augmentative/alternative communication systems
  • Facilitation of language articulation, cognitive and voice skills

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 94 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 133,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.