Parents in this digital age use technology for almost everything. More often than not, they rely on smart phones and tablets to keep their babies and toddlers occupied. By using technology to keep your child busy, it actually prevents him from learning how to occupy himself with his thoughts and imagination. Such practices might lead to your child being hooked on these devices. It is common for a 2-year-old child to throw tantrum simply because the device was taken away from them. So how much is too much?
Drawbacks of technology
Reduced time for real-life experiences
The first three years of your child is crucial. He should use all his five senses to learn about the world. The experience of holding an object, the smell, taste and interaction with a real person is more valuable than a one-way communication with a device’s screen. Your child should be spending his time playing with sand, drawing and making a mess out of his playing area whilst developing creative thinking. By providing a sole device for entertainment, it restricts your child of these experiences needed to develop.
Social skills development
It interferes with social skills development in your child. Smart phones and tablets create an invisible bubble around your child, refraining him from social skills needed for the later parts of his life. The vibrant images on the screen will keep him occupied for a long time, but it prevents him from observing his surroundings and stops him for starting a conversation.
Delayed language development
Naturally, babies are born curious. Screens may educate your child but it does not provide necessary feedback for them to develop and practice the language they learn. In fact, screens may slow language development among younger children. A child can learn words by using the screen, but the screen will not be able to provide the feedback necessary for children to develop their speech. Your child will not learn to speak if he does not practice communicating at a young age.
Manage your child’s screen time
It’s a family effort
When having a family meal, keep it screen-free. Your child should be tasting his food instead of focusing on a screen. Parents are highly encouraged to follow this rule, to teach your child what is socially accepted and what is not. Meal times are good for family bonding. With the screens off, your child will more likely look around and interact with others at the table.
Be with your child
Not for a moment should your child use the device alone, especially when they are below 2 years old. Watching shows or playing the games with your child is another great way to bond. You can give praises when he makes the correct sounds with the right animals, sing his favorite nursery rhymes with him by using hand gestures and body movements when it plays.
Keep it to the minimum
Even educational programs are not comparable to the experience of walking, climbing and exploring their environment. Babies and toddlers require a lot of physical activity for their growth. Tapping and swiping on a screen is not sufficient as it does not translate into real-world learning. For babies below 18 months, limit screen time to video chats and short videos but avoid using devices when possible. Once your child reaches 2 years and above, screen time should not exceed more than 1 hour per day.
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