Recent studies have underscored the overuse of technology in U.S.
households. Speech and hearing experts from the American
Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) who were recently polled warn that
current tech habits, if left unchecked, could produce a "time bomb" that manifests in the form of diminished communication abilities and skills. This "time bomb" encompasses speech and language development, which is dependent on adequate time for verbal exchange such as listening, talking, reading, and interacting with parents—interactions that technology cannot duplicate—and hearing loss, which impedes communication, academic and social success.
New polling from ASHA
finds that informing parents and teens of the potential risks that overuse of personal
technology devices poses to speech and language development as well as to
hearing health prompts an overwhelming willingness to change usage habits.
The polling, conducted in recognition of Better Hearing
& Speech Month, found that once informed of communication health risks—the
potential for impaired speech and language development and the ability to hear,
for example—more than 79% of parents said that they are willing to set stronger
usage parameters at home and 90% are more likely to change their own personal
tech device habits to be a better tech role model for their families.
Millennial parents, in particular, are willing to change
their habits. The polling found 46% of millennial parents say they are much
more likely to implement stronger guidelines around technology use in their
household—only 22% of older parents say the same.
"The strong interest in adopting safer behaviors is a refreshing and hopeful sign," ASHA 2016 President Jaynee Handelsman, PhD, CCC-A, says. "It suggests that despite our society's dependence on technology, parents and teens are willing to change their habits in meaningful ways once they learn that overuse comes with risks. It's encouraging that millennial parents, who have grown up in the digital age, according to our polling show the most willingness to change."
Eighty-four percent of teens said that they are more likely
to keep the volume down on devices; 74% are inclined to use their devices less
when they are around their parents and family; and 69% are so inclined when
they are around their friends.
The polling was conducted by Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner
Research, which surveyed 500 parents of children ages 0–19 from March 17 to
21 and 500 teens ages 13–19 from March 21 to March 24.
The polling shows that both parents and teens, on average, each
use tech not only more than 5 hours daily but also when communication abilities
and skills are typically developed, including conversations between parents and
children as well as family dinners and leisure activities.
Majorities of parents at least sometimes check their phones
at the dinner table (50%) and use a device during leisure time with their
children (67%). Additionally, 55% of teens reported having no rules limiting
tech usage in their homes (although parents disagree: more than two-thirds of
parents report implementing at least general guidelines on their children's use of technology).
The polling also indicates that teens and parents have come
to depend on using these devices to solve boredom, get time to themselves, and
even communicate with one another rather than talking face to face. For
example, more than half of teens (52%) reported often or sometimes using
texting or instant messaging to communicate with parents when inside the home.
ASHA experts are urging parents and teens to adopt a new "Digital Diet" to help moderate tech use in favor of more conversation and human interaction. Tips include creating a family technology plan, keeping a log, or sponsoring tech-free nights and events.
"We encourage parents to consult the Digital Diet we have developed for guidance making safer tech usage a reality at home," Handelsman says. "The steps involved are simple and easy, but they can make a big difference preserving and protecting communication health."
Handelsman notes that the Digital Diet can help build on
another bright spot from the polling: 93% of teens whose parents have set tech
usage rules at home considered rules fair. Similarly, 96% of parents who have
set usage rules said that they were successful.
ASHA encourages the public to visit www.asha.org/ProFind to find a certified
audiologist and speech-language pathologist in their local area if they have
communication health concerns.
Detailed polling results are available at www.asha.org/bhsm. View a multimedia version of this press release.
About the American
Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association
for 186,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language
pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and
speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists
specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders. www.asha.org