Which comes first: baby’s first word or baby’s first app? New research presented last weekend at the 2017 Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting suggests second can delay the first.
The study included almost 900 children between six months and two years of age and followed those children between 2011 and 2015. Researchers found by eighteen months of age, 20 percent of the children were on a mobile device for an average of 28 minutes per day. These toddlers were more likely to be behind on language and speech milestones. In fact, the more screen time a toddler experienced, the more likely he or she was to have speech delays. The results were not slight; for every 30 minute per day increase in screen time, the children’s risk of delayed language development increased by 49 percent. You can read more about the study by clicking here.
The first two years of a child’s life are challenging for parents, and the hypnotic effect of tablets and smartphones seem to provide harmless respite for both parent and child. However, as the digital generation grows, research indicates this particular parenting hack has a significant impact on children’s development. Toddlerhood is a time of rapid learning and development, and screens are only getting in their way.
While families with small children may believe there’s no need yet for a family media plan, the baby and toddler years are one of the times when a plan and limits are most needed. When parents are exhausted or unprepared, handing a young child a tablet is just too tempting. Parents must decide early what the screen limits will be for very young children– and then they need to marshal all their resources to keep their resolutions. Safeguards against excessive screen time may include researching age-appropriate activities, teaching young children to play independently, finding other treats or incentives, regular playdates (perhaps with a babysitter to give parents a break) and/or scheduling limited amounts of screen time. Keeping toddlers off the iPad requires creativity and extra effort, but research indicates it will pay off!
Need help kicking the kids off mobile devices? Clean Router can put you back in charge of the internet!