It is busy being a parent! That is an understatement. Between juggling work, laundry, cooking, and cleaning, something has to give. What is the secret weapon to a bit of peace and quiet for busy parents? iPads, of course! These magical pieces of interactive technology interests and entertains our children like nothing else. However, too much of a good thing is, you guessed it.. not so good.
Studies have shown that screen time may decrease the words and sentences that toddlers use, which negatively impact language development. Furthermore, for each additional hour of video that 8- to 16-month-old infants watched in a day, they said an average of six to eight fewer words!
How much is too much screen time? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies and toddlers younger than 18 months have NO screen time. They say children two years and older should get no more than an hour of screen time per day.
But hey! what about the educational videos and apps about shapes and letters that your child engages in on the tablet? These applications may, at first glance, seem to promote your child's speech and language development. But children do not learn best from screens. They learn how to communicate from people. From rich interactions with you! The back and forth exchange is so crucial to language development and cannot be effectively mimicked by the tablet.
If you allow screen time, it's best to keep it to small doses and guide your child through the experience. Choose high quality programs, when watching videos with your child--chat with him/her while watching them, narrate the scenes, pause the video and ask what they saw, ask what they think will happen next, connect what your child sees to everyday experiences, and have your child name or point to vocabulary on the screen. Mindfulness and moderation are essential. Be aware of how much screen time your child logs (T.V, phone, tablets, etc) and dedicate most of your child's day to social interactions, free play, books, and toys.
There are some apps(<-- click here) that promote creativity, vocabulary knowledge, articulation, and pretend play that I recommend to parents, but again, I suggest parents and caregivers interact and participate with their child while playing/using these games/apps.
In conclusion, screen time does not promote your child’s language development. The best way to help your child learn and grow is to interact with him/her! Have fun in your daily interactions, such as bath time, meal time, at the grocery store, or when you’re walking to the park! That’s where the best and most rich language learning takes place. Reserve screen time as an occasional treat.😊
***Note: this post pertains to children using tablets for entertainment via watching videos and playing games. This post is not in regards to children using tablets, including iPads as communication devices or AAC (alternative augmentative communication).***