A recent article we found on the net is suggesting that a marked increase in toddlers who are unable to speak is down to parents who are spending more time on social media sites like Facebook rather than interacting with their children – but is this an accurate representation of the reality behind the phenomenon?

At first read this may seem like a plausible explanation for a rise in speechlessness amongst young children, but to us it sounds more like a time issue. In a world where most parents are no longer able to afford the luxury of staying at home and raising their children without having to juggle work, time has become scarce.

Children need time. One of Researching Reform’s favourite parenting experts, Sue Atkins, has a poignant motto. She will tell you that children spell ‘love’, T.I.M.E. Without that quality time between parent and child, a lot of things can potentially go wrong. It is not something parents like to hear, especially when most are doing their best to balance hectic work schedules and school runs, but there is a great deal of truth in the notion that when we spend less time with our children, they feel it. And it can affect basic developmental milestones like speech.

If these experts are right, we have to ask why it is that parents are choosing to go online rather than spend that time with their children. We think the answer lies in the need to relax, unwind and feel connected to friends and a social experience that takes parents’ minds off the hassles of the day. It may well be critical down time.

So how do we manage that re-orientation when parents initially come home and need to decompress, with children’s vital needs? It’s a very difficult question to answer, and one which goes to the heart of working culture, an economy in crisis and dropping standards of living which make it harder and harder for parents to earn enough to support their families.

One thing is for sure, though, if we don’t start to look at the impact working culture and modern life in general has on children, their welfare will be irreparably jeopardised.

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