700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

Shopping for Kids? Think Twice Before Buying a Device!

Nov 21, 2019
Baby's handing touching a tablet device

As Black Friday approaches, prices on electronics are dropping and toddlers are already using their parents’ phones. Is it a good time to get your child their own device this year? The answer is probably not.

Phones and tablets have changed our lives so much in the past few decades. But in a world where screens are unavoidable, what are the health effects of too much screen use? Studies have shown that infants and toddlers need real caregiver-child interaction for brain development. Too much screen time can take away from language, motor and social skills. Reading and non-screen play are the best ways to help your child learn and grow.

Why Should I Read to My Baby?

Many months before your child is talking, they are absorbing the language around them. The best way to help your child is to talk to them and read to them. By reading to them, you are exposing them to new words while pointing to pictures on a page that shows them what those words mean. Your child is hearing the happiness, suspense, or silliness in your voice from your literary adventure. Most importantly, you are bonding with your child by spending time with them.

What If They Only Use Educational Material?

Infants and young toddlers younger than 18 months cannot learn from a screen yet. Watching a show, however educational, will only take away from the time they could be learning from the real world around them. When children are older, some educational apps can be helpful but should be used with a parent teaching them what the content means. The best television programs are slow paced, offer high quality content and are used in short sessions. Still, the best way for kids to get ready for kindergarten is through play.

What Are Some Tips for Using Screens with My Kids?

  1. Limit screen time with children less than 18 months of age to video chatting with family.
  2. Watch programs together to help them understand the show and to guarantee high quality content.
  3. Limit screen time to one hour for toddlers and two hours for school-aged children and older.
  4. Make playtime, meal time and bedtime screen-free zones for parents and kids.
  5. Don’t leave a television running in the background during other activities.
  6. When introducing screens, set early boundaries by:
    • Call it the “Family Device” and not your child’s device.
    • Always have children ask parental permission before use.
    • Have a pre-set time limit and program.

As you are out holiday shopping this year, think twice before buying screens for your kids. Choose to gift books or interactive activities for play. Keep screens away from infants and let older children use them in moderation.

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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.