Let's be honest: when you're busy, it's way more convenient to plop your child in front of an iPad to play an educational game than it is to join her or him in playing, say, an actual board game. But that doesn't mean you should do that every single time your schedule gets hectic. Instead of using the iPad as a default, mix in some play time with crayons and colouring books, or ask your son to help you with small tasks around the home. This will help your child learn there's more to experience and learning than what comes with a screen.
Because these tech toys are so new, research into their effect on a wee one's eyes is still in its infancy. So the safest bet is to limit how much time your child spends staring at screens. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids under two not watch TV (period); those older than two should watch no more than two hours of quality programming a day. Until other guidelines are developed, it might be safe to apply these rules to your child's overall screen-watching time.
Playing with tablets is essentially a passive way to spend time – you're engaging with the machine, but not with your surroundings. To keep your child engaged – and to help develop vocabulary – spend as much time as you possibly can engaging her or him in conversation. Research shows that children who grow up in households with a rich language environment tend to be more successful and have a higher intelligence than their peers.
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