5 Smart Tips for Letting Toddlers Use Smartphones

Toddlers and smartphones? 1 in 4 toddlers has used a smartphone. For many young kids, it's become the toy of choice. What is the impact on development?

It’s becoming an ever more common sight: babies and kids playing with smartphones. According to NPR’s Health Blog, one recent survey found that as many as 1 in 4 toddlers has used a smartphone and for many young kids, it’s become the toy of choice. Yet, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that kids under two follow a no-screen time rule. Is this new breed of tech parenting going to wreak havoc on the development of toddlers? Not if we educate parents how to use smartphones smartly (because the trend is most likely only going to grow).

Here are 5 smart tips for letting toddlers use smartphones:

  1. Play together. One main concern that the AAP has about young children using things like smartphones is that it leads to a reduction in parent-child communication – which is vital for language development. So, if your child wants to play on your smartphone, play together and talk about what’s happening. If you’re looking for a way to entertain your child while actually increasing your ability to communicate with one another, try our new, free KidGlyphs app which is a fun tool that uses graphics, spoken words, and text to help children communicate beyond their verbal skills.
  2. Opt for educational apps. In the same vein as above, choose apps that encourage interaction and education as opposed to those that mindlessly suck kids in without benefit.
  3. Be aware. Parents need to be aware of what their child is doing on electronic devices – to teach them how to use them respectfully and responsibly and how to best interact with technology.
  4. Use in moderation. While there are no set recommendations for how much time you should allow a young child to play with a smartphone, use your best judgment.
  5. Don’t use it for soothing. Children are naturally fascinated by the colors, sounds, and animation of smartphones and given the choice, may often choose it as a favorite distraction. If your child is crying or throwing a tantrum, don’t try to soothe him by giving him your phone. You’ll only teach him that he can have that special tool whenever he screams enough.

New advancements in science and technology can be very exciting, but it’s wise to understand the benefits and risks. And, with the boom in developments our children will experience in their lifetime, one of the greatest lessons we can teach them is responsible use.

Published on: August 16, 2012
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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