A lot of parents today are introducing their children to technology earlier and earlier. Unfortunately, screen time isn’t always healthy for children under the age of two. A recent survey done by pediatricians has determined that passive screen time for young children may in fact damage or delay a child’s language skills and impact other development.

What is Passive Screen Time?
The information in the study doesn’t say that all screen time is bad, just passive screen time, so what’s the difference? Passive screen time is anytime when a child is staring at a screen without interaction or learning. For example, your infant and toddler can Skype or FaceTime someone without damaging their development because they’re engaged and learning. Talking with parents and other relatives over Skype is actually a positive learning experience because the technology makes connections to parts of her real life. 

Passive screen times include activities like watching T.V. or simply staring at any type of screen for an extended period of time. This may even include some of those so called “educational” apps. Some of these apps may in fact be educational and beneficial for your child, but many of them are just mindless games that your child may or may not fully understand.

How Much Screen Time Is Healthy for Infant and Toddlers

There is really no recommended screen time for babies and toddlers. Most pediatricians strongly discourage too much screen time, but don’t say to completely ban it. A little time in front of the T.V. is ok for toddlers, but babies should be entertained other ways. Mobiles and toys are a better pastime for infants, and so is music. T.V. programs for children may often be confusing or over stimulating for babies.

Make a Screen Time Plan
If you’re constantly on the computer or watching T.V., your children will learn to emulate your behavior. To encourage your child to spend time doing other things, you need to model this for them and show that you enjoy time away from your various screens. Your children will probably learn about technology naturally, but don’t let them become dependent on it right from the start. This type of behavior will hamper your child’s ability to entertain herself on her own.

Instead of screen time, try to spend as much time as possible interacting with your child in various ways. Talk to her, play with her, get down on her level. While doing this, you can even incorporate some technology. If your infant or toddler is babbling or learning to talk, make a game out of your voice recorder on your phone or computer, or take pictures and videos with your child. This is a positive way to incorporate technology in your child’s life without making them dependent on it.

Rende, R. (2013, October 28). New guidelines on ccreen time for kids.RedHot Parenting RSS.