In today’s technology-obsessed society, it’s not uncommon to look around a waiting room, restaurant or grocery store and see parents handing over their smartphones or tablets to entertain (ahem, pacify) their tots
With all the educational and fun apps designed for young kids, what’s the harm, right? Not so fast… SheKnows asked experts how much technology we should share with our children. The answer might surprise you.
No way, baby
Carole Lieberman, M.D., author and child psychiatrist, doesn’t mince words when it comes to this topic. Her advice, “No tech for tots — or babies or even kids under 5.” She notes that it is “more important for young children to learn social skills rather than technical ones. If they are isolated with their technology instead of interacting with mom, dad, siblings and peers, they will grow up being uncomfortable in social situations and feel unloved.”
Pediatric occupational therapist Anne Zachry, who has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology, echoes Dr. Lieberman’s sentiments. “I am not a big proponent of babies using technology, especially with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation of no screen time for babies under two years of age,” she says.
Anne adds, “Research reveals that children learn best from real-life experiences, especially those that involve active movement. Physical exploration and play develop eye-hand coordination, visual perception and fine motor skills. Therefore, it is critical for babies to learn language and concepts while interacting with actual people and exploring the real world. Building, climbing, pretending, banging, stacking and manipulating are all 3-D experiences that can’t be replicated on a screen.” So shut off your phone, get on the floor with baby and some good old fashioned blocks and just play!
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Okay, baby… maybe
Laureen Botticelli has a masters in education, teaches child development classes, owns/operates Bump, Baby & Beyond by Kiddie Loot, writes parenting blog Momccupation and she’s a real life mom to three young boys. So if there’s anyone that needs a little technological entertainment for her kids, it’s Laureen.
But even she’s not convinced that technology is the answer. Laureen says smartphone and tablet apps should “be used in moderation because you don’t want to use it as a babysitter. Certain apps like Babysitter on the go have a rattle for little babies or a fish tank for children to look and interact with or one called Sound touch lite (the free version) that has pictures of animals and when the child touches it, it shows a picture and makes the animals sound. My son could name animals and sounds by 18 months. So there are great advantages to it.”
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However, Laureen is leery about letting technology take the place of hands-on learning. She notes that due to apps and games “kids aren’t interacting with other children as much and not using imaginative play as much.”