Monday, August 12, 2013

Screen time and toddlers: How much is too much?

How much screen time are you exposing your little ones to? There is a disturbing trend to plop toddlers, and even infants, in front of iPhones, Smart Phones, tablets and the like. I am going to take a very unpopular stand and say that I think this is detrimental to the kids.

Fisher-Price and Open Solutions are pushing apps for babies and toddlers. I agree with the folks at Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood who have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission last week saying these two companies are trying to dupe parents into thinking the apps will make their children smarter. Common sense would say that screen time versus face time is a losing scenario. I mean, how do you expect your kids to listen to you if they're caught up in animated "directions." Mom's voice can't compete with that.

Now, let me stress that I'm not talking about older kids, who may well benefit from computer apps. I'm talking about the under four-year-old crowd. The ones who need to learn, first and foremost, that parents are the authority. The ones who should prefer the voices of their parents and caretakers reading stories to them over any voice that is emitted from a handheld electronic device.

Toddlers not listening to you? How many voices are they hearing during the day other than yours? How many books have you read to them this week? Be honest.

How about sleep problems? Are you having more and more difficulty getting your little one to fall asleep at night?

According to Dr. Susan Linn, of the Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood, "Time with screens is linked to sleep disturbance. It's linked to doing less well in school [emphasis mine]." She also states, "What babies need for healthy brain development is active play, hands-on creative play and face-to-face interaction."

Even the American Academy of Pediatrics is not a fan of electronic screen time for little ones under age two, and advises a limit of less than two hours per day for older children. According the the AAP, one study found that infant videos actually delayed language development. 

For more about this issue, please take the time to watch this short video from the AP and then, for the sake of your children, power down the electronics and sit down with them for story time.

When you have the chance, weigh in on this subject in the comments section. I'd love to know what you think!

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  1. It is nice to see someone else advocating less screen time. I cannot accurately convey the looks or all the comments I get because we don't currently own a television. My children 3 years old and under do not watch television or use the computer. Instead we play outside or inside with toys and read books. We pretend. We cook. We do so many things but none of the involve a screen. Thanks again, I don't feel as alone as I did a few minutes ago.

    1. Good for you, Mum! I'm glad I was able to make you feel less alone. Keep up the good work.


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