Media Tips for Babies and Toddlers
Want to stimulate your baby's brain? Turn off the TV, and close those apps! Tips on introducing media age appropriately.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no TV for kids under 2.
Children under 2 spend twice as much time watching TV and videos as they do reading books. (Zero to Eight: Children's Media Use in America, Common Sense Media)
In 2009, the Walt Disney Company began offering refunds for Baby Einstein products based on evidence that the products weren't educational.
Advice & Answers
Do you use the TV as a babysitter?
Parenting is hard. All of us need a break from the challenges of raising small kids. Using the TV as a babysitter may not be something to brag about, but we all know that it's an easy way to buy some necessary downtime.
Find the right balance
Obviously, a little screen time won't harm your child. But remember that every minute spent sitting in front of a TV is a minute when your babies aren't exploring the world with all their senses. When TV begins to interfere with a child's ability to explore his world, that's when issues arise. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, too much TV can delay speech, inhibit play, and decrease interaction between parent and child. Interacting with you is what builds babies' brains. That's why the AAP recommends no TV time for kids under 2.
As for digital media, there are some new interactive computer programs that show learning potential -- but none of these products are designed for kids under 2. And none have been proven to make children smarter or more school ready. A study at the University of Washington released in August 2007 suggests that "developmental" DVDs and videos can actually delay toddler language development. But because so many kids have access to digital media like tablet computers and smartphones -- half of all children, according to Common Sense Media's 2011 study, Zero to Eight: Children's Media Use in America -- more research needs to be done about the educational value of these products.
Like most things in life, it comes down to finding the right balance of quality and quantity.
Here are some ideas for how to successfully manage your little one's media time.
Tips for parents of young kids
- If you're going to let babies interact with a screen, know what they're watching and playing. Be smart about the programs you pick. Choose games or programs that are age appropriate, with non-jarring sounds and bright, stimulating colors.
- Don't turn TV into preschool. Baby TV hasn't proven to be of any benefit for school readiness. The best preparation for your children involves spending time with them, reading, talking, and exposing them to the world.
- As kids get older, keep media out of their bedroom. When TVs or computers are in their room, kids spend more time using media, and parents are less involved with their choices.
- Teach your children to ask you whether it's OK to turn on media. This simple control mechanism helps keep gaming, TV watching, and online activity from becoming habits.
- Watch the clock. Media use increases as children get older. Less screen time improves your children's ability to entertain themselves in other ways. Set time rules, and stick to them.