Smartphones and tablets are not meant for babies (< 2 years)
In today’s environment we all can see small babies and toddlers playing with phones. Whether you are at mall, driving in car, waiting somewhere , smartphones have become like babysitter for many parents. Parents feel excited to see their small babies handling touch screen phones so efficiently. Touch screen smartphones with their great picture quality, colorful images and good sounds appeals to babies. But are they really good for optimum brain development for young kids?
Till now there is NO research done to know the connection between infant learning and smartphones. For older children with use of interactive elements it may help in learning concepts such as sequencing and cause and effect relations. But for small babies who are still in very young age of brain development, it’s long term effect is not known.
All the doctors are of the opinion to reduce screen time for small babies. Screen time includes time spent on TV, videos, laptops, phones etc. American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has made a clear stance that “NO screen time for kids less than 2 years”. Main reason being association of Language learning delays, poor reading skills and short term memory are seen more often in children with more screen time.
Children learn better from real life experiences rather than screen time. It is more so if activities involve moving and doing. Various surveys and studies show that on an average 12-month-old baby is exposed to up to 2 hours of screen time a day.
Young age (< 2 years) is very critical for learning of new concepts. Most of the learning involve 3 dimensional Sensory- motor experiences which cannot be replicated on a 2 dimensional screen. Active play involves better hand – eye coordination , fine motor skill development.
Example: Compare a ball in real life and a ball on Screen.
Infants are still developing concept of 3 dimensional vision. For a small baby watching on screen a BALL is just a flat, shaded circle. In real life if we roll a ball across floor it proceeds in a single motions and gradually slows and stops finally. But on Screen same action cannot be done; it will be broken up. Small babies may stare at bright colors and motions on screen but their brain is not capable of making sense or meaning out of these amazing pictures. By the age 2 years brain has developed enough and baby can understand things better. Due to all this confusion it is better to avoid screen time in small babies.
After a certain age technology and screen time can be used judicially for better interactive teaching. Older children can do lot more and screen time can help them in understanding concept better along with reading from textbook. But not for very small babies.
Another excuse which most parents give is that there baby will never eat food if we take phones out of there life. Just to remind them that before invention of smart phone kids used to eat well. And Honestly speaking we have started spending more time on social networking like facebook and whats app which have lead to more exposure in children. Because it’s we who cannot live without phone rather then kids.
Dr Rahul varma