Screen Time for Infants to Toddlers
At what age do you believe screen time is appropriate? There are many studies out there that show screen time for infants to toddlers should be zero. Society, on the other hand, seems to disagree with the study. “Everything within limits” is a thought I hear echoing in my head. The truth of the matter is that times are changing, and more and more is being learned about early childhood development; what is acceptable and what is not.
What does an infant get from screen time, anything, too much, too little? Do the pitfalls associated with screen time outweigh its benefits? We, as parents, must take the time to do the research and determine what is best for the child. Not what is convenient. Not what is tolerable, but what is BEST for the child. The purpose of this article is to get you thinking and motivated to do your own research, given the information provided in the links.
Defining Screen Time
What is screen time? “The amount of time a person spends in front of a “screen”, including TV, computers and video games,” as cited by Segen’s Medical Dictionary. The term “screen” also includes the smartphone and any handheld device. Often, we hear grandparents joking about how their grandchildren know how to use their phone better than they do. The reality is, many children do know how to use those devices and are quite proficient at it. The reason for that is the children are given these devices at the earliest possible age as a tool to keep them busy and entertained. But, does the fact that they have learned how to use the device so early mean its necessarily a good thing?
Before we go jumping to conclusions, we also need to know that there are different types of screen time. There is passive screen time and active screen time. Passive screen time could be summed up such as mindless gameplay for hours, while active screen time is interaction such as Skyping with a grandparent. The main difference between the two types is the interaction between live people. Studies show this live interaction is far greater than a child simply sitting down looking at a game or video.
Determining What is BEST
The purpose of this article is not to sway your thinking, but to get you thinking! Ultimately, the choice should be what is BEST for your child. Determining what is best means choosing a childcare that has those same beliefs and practices. When considering the current thoughts on no screen time for infant to age two, you also have to consider there are more hours in a day than that spent in childcare. So, if a child in that age range was allowed say 30-minutes a day and that time was spent viewing at childcare, then they wouldn’t be allowed screen time at home. Therefore, it would surmise that the zero policy is a good policy for childcare. That way, little Mikey or little Ava could spend quality time with Nana via Skype before bedtime.
Though this article only addresses screen time for infant to age two, if you have older children you may want to consider Internet Use Disorder (IUD). A relatively new illness as found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association. Again, I say “Everything within limits”. You know your child’s physical limitations. You wouldn’t allow them to run around a track for four consecutive hours a day. Therefore, it stands to reason, not knowing their mental limits, you wouldn’t allow them to view screen time for four hours a day.
Summing it Up
While screen time for any age can be entertaining and sometimes educational, it can never replace the live interaction between people. Being hands-on and personally interacting with the child is a far greater educational tool than any screen time. With that in mind, that should be your first thought when determining appropriate use of screen time for your child.
Author: Belinda Davis