Many babies and toddlers absolutely love playing with touch-screen technology—and it’s no wonder! The touch screen provides instant gratification with its cool images, movements, and sounds appealing to their senses. Understandably, many parents are thrilled with this interactive technology because, mostly through media ads, they’ve heard that babies can learn letters, numbers, words, and concepts. However, to date there is no research studying a connection between tablets or smartphones and infant learning.
Whether traveling in the car or waiting in the pediatrician’s office, it’s not uncommon for parents to hand over a smartphone, laptop, or tablet to their toddler. To parents, these devices act much like a babysitter, and with hundreds of apps available for young children, they’re increasingly appealing to little ones. Are there potential benefits or harms to babies being exposed to these interactive screens? Again, proper research hasn’t been completed, so there’s no scientific proof yet.
For older children, the interactive element allows them to learn concepts such as cause and effect and sequencing, but for babies still experiencing critical brain development, long-term effects remain unknown. When it comes to screen time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has made a clear stance: it advises eliminating screen time for children younger than 2 years completely, linking it to language learning delays. It’s important to note that just like TVs, videos, and computers, tablets and cell phones have screens too.
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Zachry, A. H. (2013). Retro Baby: Cut Back on all the Gear and Boost Your Baby's Development with Over 100 Time-Tested Activities. Elk Grove, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.