The topic of technology use for children is beginning to be a hot one. It really doesn’t have to be, because we have good knowledge of what is responsible use of technology for children.
At this time, the American Pediatric Association recommends against placing children under the age of 2 in front of screens at all (read their position statement here). For older children, some screen time is OK, but certainly no where near what many parents are reporting they allow their children access to!
While this position may seem extreme, it is based on fundamental knowledge and plenty of laboratory research on child brain development, especially of communication development. It is also based on a very large body of research showing the link between the amount of direct talking children receive and their language development and later school success. The relationship is plain and simple: less talk = slower language development, leading to many difficulties down the road. More talk = sooner and faster rates of language development, putting these kids at an advantages to kids who are talked to less.
I shared this link a couple of months ago. The evidence is increasingly pointing to detrimental effects of technology use for very young children, especially when the programming is non-educational. Even when it is educational, there are really no strong positive effects relative to advantages of face to face interaction. Children are mesmerized by screens (well, we all are, really, regardless of age!). But regardless of the sophistication of the programming, technology has not yet equalled the complex interactivity that another human being can provide. Our brains are wired to develop through interaction with people.
But, let’s be realistic here. Sometimes, mom or dad really need 10 minutes to finish making supper or finish up their meal at a restaurant in peace. Will 10 minutes with the iPad stunt a child’s brain development? No, it won’t. Will an hour a day hurt? We really don’t know (but we know that is one less hour of direct interaction the child will get).
As always, if you have a concern regarding your child’s language development, please fill out a referral form. Or if your organization would like to book a presentation on any topic related to child language development, please do not hesitate to contact us by phone or email.