The next time you see a baby staring at a television or iPad, watch carefully.
You’ll notice that the baby doesn’t turn his head, but faces the screen with a fixed stare. Because babies are so transfixed by what they see onscreen, they tune out the world of human interaction around them. Electronic toys have a similar impact, and the larger lesson is that electronics of all types change the way parents and children interact.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, hands-on exploration and social interaction are critical for children below the age of two to develop cognitive, language, motor and social-emotional skills. None of these skills can be acquired from digital media. This doesn’t mean that electronics are universally bad and should be prohibited, but rather that parents need to be mindful of how they are used, as well as of the types of interaction that are necessary for a child’s development.
Video chat apps such as FaceTime and Skype are among the most benign and can be used more freely than other types of programs. Educational and interactive games can be conducive to development, but it’s important to find out whether a game or app is truly what it claims to be. Check www.commonsensemedia.org for information on the games and apps you choose. By opting for games that are slower paced, you can give children more time to think and interact.
However, the most important thing you can do, aside from choosing electronic media wisely, is to limit interaction with electronics to sessions no longer than 30 minutes. For children aged 2-5, limit electronics to no more than one hour total per day.
Television is the worst of electronic media, as it offers no interaction. Studies have shown that increased TV viewing time can lead to attention problems. Children under the age of two should spend as little time as possible exposed to screens, and screens should be strictly prohibited from the bedroom. As the light emitted from screens can interfere with sleep patterns, shut screens off at least an hour before bedtime.
For more information, please read:
What Electronics Can Do to Your Infant’s Brain | US News