How apps and devices can be used to help support children’s speech, language and communication skills
Gifts involving technology will have been among some of the bestsellers this past festive season. There are a variety of devices, toys and games that will surprise and amuse us. Whether it’s sharing a love of Pokemon Go! or playing with different apps on a phone or using social media technology is central to our lives. Underlying a lot of the reasons we use technology is that we want to communicate and be in contact with people who aren’t necessarily there. We want to share our ideas and thoughts with not only family and friends, but the whole world. It can also help us to get (and stay) organised and focused.
There are lots of ways that devices can support children’s speech, language and communication skills that may not be immediately obvious. For example, the simple camera function on your phone can be the start of using pictures so that you and your child can share where you have been or who you have seen. For children with speech, language and communication needs this might be the start of a visual timeline.
You might use your phone or tablet to film your child so that you can watch them as they learn and grow. This can also be a useful way of hearing what they’re saying and seeing if they are on track with their speech, language and communication development.
Technology like video-calling such as Skype or Face time on a tablet or phone can support social interaction and communication skills as it makes it easy for children to show people the things they want to talk about and to talk with family and friends. By doing this they’re also learning to take turns during a conversation, watch the other person’s reactions and to explain things to someone who isn’t in the same room as them. Find out more here.
If others join in with apps and games or taking and viewing photos they become shared experiences and can be a starting point for children’s own questions, stories and imaginative responses. Some nurseries and schools encourage young children to take their own photos to show their families when they get home. These can be a way of sharing what’s happened during the day, encouraging children to share stories and have conversations.
Technology can be very motivating for children and young people. And used in the right way television and touch screen devices can support children’s language development – what’s important is that children talk with other children and adults while using them. Technology should be seen alongside supportive face to face interactions with real people.
There are also a wide range of apps to support different aspect of speech, language and communication skills at different ages and stages. Find out more from I CAN’s factsheet.