Comparing Caregiver-Child Dyad Language Productions During Traditional Toy and Tablet-Based Play Interactions
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This study examined how mobile screen devices impact the language of preschool children and adult caregivers during play. A total of 6 dyads consisting of a typically developing child (between 3;0 and 4;11) and one primary caregiver were recorded playing with physical and tablet-based toys. A repeated-measures design was utilized to collect samples of language during alternating trials as each dyad interacted with the two variables separately (i.e., physical toy, tablet-based toy). An analysis of the resulting utterance length and semantic complexity of language was measured using mean length of utterance (MLU), type-token ratio (TTR), and a qualitative approach regarding communicative intents was discussed. A decrease in total words, morphemes, and utterances was noted when children played with tablet-based toys compared to play with the physical toy. Children also produced fewer and more restricted communicative intents when playing with the tablet toy. Results point to clinical implications regarding professional recommendations for parents of young children as well as a need for additional research in the area.