Original Research

The influence of screen time on children’s language development: A scoping review

Nazeera F. Karani, Jenna Sher, Munyane Mophosho
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 69, No 1 | a825 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v69i1.825 | © 2022 Nazeera F. Karani, Jenna Sher, Munyane Mophosho | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 February 2021 | Published: 09 February 2022

About the author(s)

Nazeera F. Karani, Department of Speech Pathology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Jenna Sher, Department of Speech Pathology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Munyane Mophosho, Department of Speech Pathology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: An exponential increase in screen time amongst children and adults, has given rise to a plethora of studies exploring the influences that this exposure may have on children’s development.

Objectives: This review is specifically concerned with understanding the influence of screen time on children’s language development.

Method: A scoping review was conducted to explore the available literature relating to the impact of screen time on children’s language development. The scoping review was based on the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses extension for Scoping Reviews (PRISMA-ScR) framework and the Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) framework. The data were analysed using thematic content analysis.

Results: This review identified 12 articles. It made an argument for the multifactorial relationship between screen time and language development, given the associated positive and negative effects. The results revealed core themes such as the influence of screen time being dependent on various factors and the diverse effects of screen time on children’s language development, with the inclusion of parents’ monitoring of and participation in viewing, playing a vital role in language development.

Conclusion: The review indicated that an increase in the amount of screen time and an early age of onset of viewing have negative effects on language development, with older age of onset of viewing showing some benefits. Video characteristics, content and co-viewing also influences language development. This study demonstrates that the negative influences of screen time appear to outweigh the positive influences.


Keywords

language development; screen time; children; positive effects, negative effects

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