This study investigates the influence of the quantity, content, and context of screen media use on the language development of 85 Saudi children aged 1 to 3 years. Surveys and weekly event-based diaries were employed to track children's screen use patterns. Language development was assessed using JISH Arabic Communicative Development Inventory (JACDI). Findings indicate that the most significant predictor of expressive and receptive vocabulary in 12- to 16-month-olds was screen media context (as measured by the frequency of interactive joint media engagements). In older children (17- to 36-month-olds), more screen time (as measured by the amount of time spent using screens, the prevalence of background TV at home, and the onset age of screen use) had the highest negative impact on expressive vocabulary and mean length of utterance. These findings support health recommendations on the negative effects of excessive screen time and the positive effects of co-viewing media with children.
Keywords: children; co-viewing; language development; media use; screen time; toddlers; vocabulary.