What do toddlers love more than Sesame Street’s Elmo? Your iPhone or iPad. And parents and experts are lining up on opposite sides of the great iPhone debate. According to the New York Times, the iPhone, iPad and other devices are the newest and best bargaining chips parents have for getting their kids to sit down, calm down and stay quiet. Parents say their kids love the phone more than books, blocks and even TV. And experts say that’s a serious problem.
Everyone from the American Academy of Pediatrics, to the early childhood development experts say too much screen time is bad for babies and toddlers. Studies keep finding that when kids are exposed to too much technology they have learning and developmental delays.
Jane Healy is an educational psychologist. She says young children need to use their whole bodies and minds to learn not just stare at a screen. She says touching and holding blocks, having a conversation and interacting with their parents and teachers helps them develop life long learning skills. And she, like most experts, says kids should be kept away from any kind of technology with a screen until they’re two years old. And after than they should be limited to an hour or less a day.
Most parents get that they shouldn’t be handing their iPhone to their toddler, but it’s a handy way to get some shopping done, or keep the kids quiet on a long car drive. So keep your kids away from screens as much as possible, and don’t use the phone as a crutch. But if you’re desperate choose a well-designed game, made specifically for their age group, that has them using their hands or singing along not just watching the screen.