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Digital Device and Children

Updated: Feb 5, 2019

Back in the 80's most toddlers couldn't count beyond ten or spell their own name until prep school. Today, some toddlers knows all the letters of the alphabet, do basic addition and subtraction, and unlock tablets. Are kids smarter now these days?

Yes, parents do notice the kids today are not the same as kids thirty years ago. This is because children are now being exposed to many more different things than thirty years ago. For example, smartphone wasn't a common device like today.

One study suggests that video game exposure induces structural brain plasticity and improves our performance on attention demanding and perceptual tasks. But as to whether these brain expansion effects leads to an improvement in complex life skills, such as problem solving and planning, remains open to debate.

Parents should not substituting books and general baby toys for smart phones.

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, has a foundation called Vroom that addresses this digital problem. The foundation report found that screen time is no substitute for one-on-one spoken interaction and play that nurtures babies' language development. Rather than plopping a digital device into a baby's hands, parents should read to them or engage them in conversation.

If parents decided to let their toddler use tablets, they should be interacting closely with their toddler while using the tablets, taking what the toddler is seeing on screen and making it a shared, three-dimensional experience. Treat touchscreens and TV programs as just one more way to introduce toddlers to animals, colors, and other concepts.

“Physical play also contributes better to your child’s mental and emotional development than watching television or other digital devices .”

Guideline from The American Academy of Pediatrics:

For children under two years of age, no screen time is allow at all. This is because children this young find it difficult to understand and make sense of what they are watching, and they also need lots of physical activity.

Between the ages of two and three, limit your toddler's total viewing time to an hour a day. This is because toddlers need to be active for three hours a day to grow healthily. Your child also needs the chance to interact with you and other children, so he can learn how to talk to and relate to people. All these opportunities are limited while watching television.

For children aged four and over, doctors suggest a limit of one hour or two hours of screen time a day. This includes TV, online viewing and computers, as well as interactive mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. This is also a common recommendation in countries like the US, Canada and Australia.


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