As busy parents, the quickest possible way we can entertain our babies is by letting them play with tablets, smartphones, and laptops. Yes, they are smart, and we are proud as they quickly acquire the digital skills. But many experts worry that letting too much screen time might only harm your baby.
Doctors believe that too much screen time can affect the baby’s developing brain and impede their attention span and concentration, plus there could be appetite issues. More screen time means that babies and toddlers have a sedentary lifestyle while they should be active physically for at least three hours a day for healthy growth.
It turns out that about 92.2% of one-year-olds have already used a mobile device. What could be the developmental impediments? Here are a few realities:
- It takes about 18 months for a baby’s brain to relate the symbols on a screen to the real world. Under this age, babies cannot conjure the bizarre images on the screen.
- Children’s brains are wired to learn from real people and the real world around them. By conditioning them to more screen time, you are creating a hurdle in learning from live experiences.
- Babies get so addicted to these screens that they even refuse to eat, without something flashing on the screen. That way it hinders your child’s appetite.
- Scientists believe that more screen time leads to poor reading skills, short-term memory, language development, attention span and sleep deficit and a possible case of future obesity.
- Your baby misses out reading your facial expressions, know the tone of your voice, understand your body language, and interact with you.
- The onus is on you to reduce your screen time. An average parent would use about 940 words per hour in the presence of her toddler. With television on, one would use about 770 words per hour, which means there are fewer words that your toddler can learn.
- Toddlers who watch more TV are known to have lesser attention span by the time they turn seven.
- With continual screen time, your baby fails to acquire the skills to take on challenges. They are simply engaged in the ever-changing and ever-interesting programmed videos than dealing with anything more challenging.
While authorities such as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that screen time for infants must totally be shunned, there are a few experts that believe that scholars and media are only giving out the negativities of screen time for your child. They believe that the scholarly articles must show data in a magnitude that can justify the fear that these recommendations invoke in parents.
To allay your fears, we will answer some frequently asked questions about screen time for children:
1. So when can you allow your child any screen-time?
What experts recommend is that children under the age of two should not be given any screen-time at all as it will not provide them with the opportunity to interact with you or other children around. It impedes language acquisition and any exercise.
After the age of two, your child can have an introduction to literacy, problem-solving, math, science, prosocial behavior through controlled screen time. They can watch interactive programs such as Dora the Explorer and answer the questions.
2. How long can the screen time be?
Not over one hour a day from two years until five.
If for some reason you do let your child use your device, say a touchscreen phone, for instance, allow not more than 20 minutes in one go and be ready to do something more interesting next.
3. Is it OK to let your baby some screen time while eating?
It won’t possibly help your child to realize how much she is eating or get the taste of the food in the first place! Watching the screen while eating might make them feed more or less. With that screen flashing, you too may not realize that she has had enough lunch for the day.
4. Are educational apps for children helpful?
For children under the age of two, there is no evidence of benefits from using the apps. In fact, watching screen may limit your baby’s thinking skills.
5. Is e-book reading good for your baby?
Your child will miss out interacting with you if it is a programmed interactive media. If you are reading an e-book, you may skip the details that will lead to the imaginary world of children; rather you would limit yourself to how the technology works. But, traditional story books have the advantage of colorful pictures that can stimulate your child’s brain.
6. How to keep the screen time for your baby in check?
Simply remove TVs and computers out of your child’s room. Keep mobile phones and tablets out of their reach.
If you must give some screen time, monitor the timing. Also, choose programs with educational elements. Try diverting your child with baby games. Make your child giggle. Speak to them and let them speak to you.