So the verdict is in: The iPad as digital babysitter for toddlers is not a good idea. But according to a just-published report by nonprofit Zero to Three, the bad (and not so bad) news about young kids and screen time is a lot more nuanced that previously thought. Below are five myths about toddlers and screen time:
Myth Number 1: All Screen Time Is Detrimental To Early Learning
While it is absolutely true that toddlers learn best through (way) off-screen activities like hands-on discovery, exploration and human connection, limited screen time is acceptable when:
* It’s entirely age appropriate
* Viewing time is limited
* Parents are involved and help kids make the connection between what they see and the real world (as in, don’t simply stick them in front of an Elmo video and call it a day)
Myth Number 2: Children Aren’t Impacted by TV that Plays in the Background
False! Exposure to programming not designed for kids, even when playing in the background, is associated with a negative effect on language development, cognitive development and executive functioning.
Myth Number 3: TV at Bedtime Can Help Lull Kids to Sleep
Studies show that viewing TV within two hours of bedtime makes it harder for kids to fall asleep.
Myth Number 4: Parental Cell Phone Use Doesn’t Affect Kids’ Behavior
A recent study that involved observing families at fast-food restaurants found that out of the 40 out of 55 parents used a mobile device during the meal. The longer that parents interacted on their mobile devices, the more likely their children were to act out. (Sound familiar?)
Myth Number 5: The More Interactive the Screen, The Better for Toddlers
Surprised? We were. Too many interactive bells and whistles can interfere with a child’s ability to understand the storyline. The key is for parents to help kids focus on the storyline, and not get distracted by an interactive detour.