Over the years, I have observed that as our technology has become more sophisticated, parents are allowing their young children to interface more with their smart phones and tablet devices. I frequently see parents wanting to placate their energetic children in the waiting room by handing them mobile devices to play with. While it may be surprising to watch a three year old child adeptly navigating through a cell phone, he is missed out on the important language, motor, and development skills that can be gained from interpersonal and even individual screen-free play time.
Limiting screen time enables children to be inquisitive and use their mind/body interaction to make important, long lasting connections in their brain. It is important to be wary of videos that are marketed as educational and targeted towards the under two year old demographic, as evidence has not shown educational validity in such a young age group. Physical play time is richer in the positive effects that it has on your baby’s brain. It allows them to use problem solving skills, and become stimulated by different textures, colors, and movements. Not only does limiting screen time help to improve bonding between a parent and child, but it will also prevent your child from being sedentary. According to HealthyChildren.org, a website powered by the American Academy of Pediatrics, children who are exposed to more than 2 hours of TV every day have an increased likelihood of obesity as adults.
Instead of having your child play with your smart phone or tablet, allow them to engage in independent playtime with simple, child-proof objects. This interaction can make a tremendous impact in the road to their life-long learning.