Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Chatting about screen use on @WeSpeechies - Tuesday - Chat overview

Yesterday I moderated the 55th @WeSpeechies chat, an hour long online discussion (on Twitter) focussed on a topic of interest to the speech and langauge therapy / pathology profession.  This week, as you may have seen from my previous blogposts the focus is on child screen use, child development and our professional responsibilities in this area.  The chat, but also about my experience of moderating the chat covers two areas of interest for me: the topic (screen use and child development) and the forum (new ways of communicating evidence).  I'll focus on the topic today but I will blog about the chat as a communication tool along with my experience of curating @WeSpeechies in due course, so watch this space!

The topic - Screen time and child development: Exploring the impact of audiovisual and interactive screens from all angles

Some great photos were tweeted around this topic, including photos of i-potties, i-walkers, ipads in cots.  The most endearing was this:

The chat was based around four questions that focussed on speech and langauge therapists' responsibilities concerning this topic.  The questions were as follows:

Q1 What do #wespeechies need to consider when advising clients and the public on screen use & child development?

Q2 Need #wespeechies incorporate information on child screen use into our assessment and treatment of children and adolescents?

Q3 What are the benefits & risks of #wespeechies using screen based technology in clinical practice?  Do we relay these to children/parents?

Q4 How do you access information about screen based technology, child development and clinical praactice? #wespeechies

You can read a transcript of the entire chat here.  Several factors were highlighted in response to the questions and I will discuss four here with my own reflections.

1:  Focus on the positives and gauge client opinion
First, there was some agreement that when advising clients it would be preferable to focus on positive behaviours (such as interaction) rather than taking a restrictive stance on screen use/screen time.  I would extend this to factors for which screen time is found to be associated with (but not as yet to cause), including sleep and pyschological wellbeing. This is partly due to the limited evidence surrounding screen use and negative outcomes, partly to facilitate a positive working relationship with clients and partly to enable the positive features of technology to be embraced where appropriate.  Comments from Susan Rvachew proposed that by gauging the client's or parent's own views towards screen use we can tailor our services to best meet their needs:

2:  Screen technology resonates with and works for many young people
The second factor that was highlighted was the potential benefits of some screen based apps for children with communication difficulties.  For example, some reported positive progress using apps for children with social communication difficulties.  Also, a study by Durkin et al (2010) was tweeted, which demonstrated benefits of computer mediated communication for children with communication needs. There was agreement that a benefit of incorporating screen technology was that it could resonate with young children but a potential disadvantage may be that the activities recommended might displace other activities.  It was noted, however, that strategies such as parent to child interaction might just as reasonably be incorporated into an activity involving smart devices.

3: Children are the teachers
The third factor that I want to reflect on in this blogpost, and which resonated strongly with me was the extent to which we can learn from young people about screen based technology.  Several tweeters acknowledged that children and young people know so much about screen technology and parents and adults are spending most of their time just 'catching up.' This phenomenon has been described in the literature in terms of children and young people being 'digital natives' and their parents 'digital immigrants' (Christakis 2001).  Some really interesting thoughts about engaging young people as tutors on computer mediated communication were raised, let's hope some interesting research follows!

4: Screen based technology is a source for our own professional development
Fourth and final, the source of advice for professionals varied from asking around, using twitter and getting information from young people, as stated above.  There doesn't currently appear to be a forum for professionals to share or get advice.  My own experience is that Twitter and handles such as @WeSpeechies are a great starting point for sharing information.  I also hope that by blogging I can share my own reflections and hopefully encourage others to do the same.

The hour went so quickly and we have only scratched the surface of this topic.  If you have a thought or comment on any of the chat questions or on this blog, please do share your thoughts either in the comments section below or on Twitter with me @clarrysmith and with @WeSpeechies.

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