You've probably seen some of these videos online: A toddler touches a television screen or the cover of a magazine and is confused when the object doesn't react to his or her touch. Mom and dad are usually in the background laughing. We'll admit that it's kind of funny. Some toddlers have gotten so used to playing with touchscreen devices like smartphones and tablets that they just don't know any better!
So are mobile devices good educational tools, or could they hinder your tot's development? The answer isn't really black and white. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) strongly discourages any screen time (television, computers, mobile devices, etc.) for children under the age of two, there are dozens of apps – some designed by child development professionals – that are meant for babies and toddlers. What are parents supposed to think?
Because the iPad and similar products have been on the market for barely five years, there just isn't enough research to determine whether these devices are good or bad for a child's development. The AAP has acknowledged that point, and instead of pushing for a blanket media ban, it recommends that families take a cautious, but balanced approach to screen time.
In an interview with NPR, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a Seattle-based pediatrician and father of two, said that even for the smallest of children, some media exposure is not necessarily bad. Dr. Christakis' current research is focused on how parents can make better screen time decisions for their toddlers and preschool-aged children.
According to Dr. Christakis, the real concern when it comes to mobile devices is how they're being used. He added that a child needs to be engaged with an app, not just looking at it passively. One way that parents can ensure that this is happening is by using the tablet or smartphone with their little one.
"There's no reason whatsoever that a caregiver can't use an app with their child," Dr. Christakis told the news outlet. "It's a great opportunity for what we call 'joint attention' – the interactions between a child and a caregiver, the back-and-forth, which is critical not just to language development, but brain development."
The media specialist added that using an app with your tot is really no different than sitting down together and reading a book. It really comes down to moderation, and traditional developmental toys like blocks sill need to be used.
When you're a new parent, sometimes it can feel like information is coming at you from all sides! Need some experienced moms and dads to talk to for advice? Head down to your local Brixy store today!