Screen Time for Babies?

Thank you to COVD for this piece.

COVD Link:

baby laptop

Don’t get me wrong….. I love technology.  I own a laptop, an e-reader and a smart phone.  I use these devices in both my personal and professional lives.  I also recognize that it is appropriate for children to learn how and when to use these devices.  Information and collaboration are an incredibly powerful combination.  But like so many other things in a complex world, there should be guidelines and supervision, because too much of a good thing can have adverse consequences.

Children aged 0-8 years spend an average of 3.25 hours per day using media (TV, video gaming consoles, computers, tablets, smart phones, etc. ).  For children 8-18 years old, that jumps to an average of 7.5 hours a day.  Teens average sending over 100 texts per day.  The shorter wavelength of light emitted by these screens suppresses melatonin and disrupts sleep cycles.  Children do not get enough sleep and excessive screen time makes it worse.  Screen time is related to delayed bedtime, shorter sleep duration, sleep disorders, and daytime fatigue.  Ladies and gentlemen, this is the ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE.

Do you want to support the zombie apocalypse by purchasing a computer game designed specifically for babies?  Screen time for babies is a bad idea.  And as if that isn’t bad enough, AT&T has partnered with BabyFirst to develop a “magical child development app” that uses not one screen but two!  “Now they will be able to create images using an iPhone or iPad and see their creations come to life on the TV screen.” An entertainment system that engages babies with 2 screens is a super bad idea.

A baby’s visual system is not designed to shift attention from near to far distances.  It is designed to focus at relatively close distances to encourage babies to interact with PEOPLE, not TVs.  A baby’s visual system is designed to interact with 3-dimensional objects within arms reach, not a flat constantly changing image.

I have no idea how much it would cost to provide a baby with this magical TV experience, but whatever the cost, I can think of 100 better ways to spend that money to entertain babies and young children.  In fact, I can think of 100 better ways to entertain babies and young children that cost nothing.

Use papers and crayons to create images.  Spin them around, hang them up, look at them through your legs.  Go for a walk.  Tickle your baby. Turn up the music. Dance with your baby.  Go to the playground.  Dig in the dirt.  Throw pebbles in a puddle.  Visit the library.  Blow bubbles. Kick a ball.  Put the ball in a box.  Take the ball out of the box. Put the box on top of the ball.  Get a bigger ball.  You get the idea.  Get started by unplugging.

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