Can a Baby “Smart Phone” Encourage Language Development in Infants?

By: Shianna Thompson u0896731

For my blog post I chose to look at the VTech Touch and Swipe Baby Phone. This product is available on Amazon and it is a bestseller in their kids electronic systems department. Marketed towards children in the 6-36 month age range, the phone is a bulkier version of a real touch phone with 12 light-up pretend apps. They include things like a dog, music note, and house which play songs.  It has a toggle at the bottom of screen that has a call and home button, the home button can actually save a phone number. According to amazon the toy is suppose to introduce role-play and hand eye coordination while also teaching the abc’s, 123s, and words. I found this product interesting because it is something that only people alive in the last decade will understand. Children growing up anytime before this used different things to facilitate their language skills and sometimes I think technology hinders this development.

The age range for the product I chose is pretty large 6-36 months, it also claims to facilitate the development of multiple things the main one being  language development. That being said, when reading the Bornstein text I looked at the sections on cognition and language development. I learned that when it comes to language, infants are able to comprehend words before they can speak them. Their language development is also being supported by multiple sources. One of which is labeling, where objects are verbally referred to and described. All in all both sections pretty much said that infants are biologically predisposed to learn things and do so through the the stimulus in their environment. It also seemed that the best way to learn is through interaction with other people.

I found an article published in JAMA Pediatrics titled Association of the Type of Toy Used During Play With the Quantity and Quality of Parent-Infant Communication, that looked at whether or not the type of toy used during play affected the communication in parent-infant interactions. The study was a controlled experiment in a natural setting  featuring 26 pairs of parents and infants 10-16 months old. Researchers measured things like adult word usage and child vocalization while observing 15 minute play sessions between parent and infant in their home. They used three different sets of toys for infants to play with; a book, traditional toy, and an electronic toy, the electronic toy that they used is representative of the Touch and Swipe Baby Phone. They found that when infants played with an electronic toy it decreased the quantity and quality language input as compared to the other toys. After analyzing the Bornstein text and article I believe that the Touch and Swipe Baby Phone does not really contribute to the development of an infants language skills, at least when they are under under the age of two.  This toy is really the most harmful when parents believe that it contributes more to their child’s development than their interaction with them does.

In conclusion, I found that the Touch and Swipe Baby Phone doesn’t quite live up to its claims about language development. It won’t hurt the infant to play with it as a distraction, but parents should keep in mind that their involvement with the infant is most beneficial. Research suggesting that the best way for an infant to develop language skills is through interaction with others where there is a bidirectional exchange in communication and actions.

References:

Bornstein, M.H., Arterberry, M.E., & Lamb, M.E. (2014). Development in Infancy (5thEdition). Psychology Press

Sosa, A. V. (2016). Association of the Type of Toy Used During Play With the Quantity and Quality of Parent-Infant Communication. JAMA Pediatrics, 170(2), 132. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.3753

Touch and Swipe Baby Phone. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.vtechkids.com/product/detail/13336/Touch_and_Swipe_Baby_Phone

Vtech Touch and Swipe Baby Phone. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/VTech-Touch-Swipe-Baby-Phone/dp/B00CS16EJU/ref=lp_166270011_1_7?s=toys-and-games&ie=UTF8&qid=1487194514&sr=1-7&th=1

 

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One thought on “Can a Baby “Smart Phone” Encourage Language Development in Infants?

  1. Jenny Reese
    UNID: u0774361

    I find it interesting that this is how companies are deciding to market this toy, because when I bought the smartphone toy for my niece I never once thought that this toy would be beneficial to her development and learning. That makes me feel bad for those parents that bought those toy’s so their children could develop language. I understand why they market this product that way, but it doesn’t seem right to market it that way if there isn’t any real connection between language development and the toy. I completely agree when you say that the parents involvement in the child’s development is the most important and beneficial. I found that in a lot of research that no matter what type of programs there are to help the child to develop as long as the parent is involved with the development the child will grow and develop how they need to. The parent shouldn’t just be sitting them in front of a screen and hope that the child learns what the parent wants them to learn.

    Like

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