…Early research suggests that interactive media, such as electronic books and learn-to-read applications can be useful in teaching vocabulary and reading comprehension, but only in children preschool-age or older. The potential educational benefits for children under two is questioned, as research on interactive media in this age group is scant, and it is well-known that infants and toddlers learn best through hands-on and face-to-face experiences.
This commentary notes that while mobile device use by children can provide an educational benefit, the use of these devices to distract children during mundane tasks may be detrimental to the social-emotional development of the child. The researchers ask “If these devices become the predominant method to calm and distract young children, will they be able to develop their own internal mechanisms of self-regulation?”
“It has been well-studied that increased television time decreases a child’s development of language and social skills. Mobile media use similarly replaces the amount of time spent engaging in direct human-human interaction,” explained corresponding author Jenny Radesky, MD, clinical instructor in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and a former fellow in pediatrics at Boston Medical Center.
The authors question whether heavy device use during young childhood could interfere with development of empathy, social and problem solving skills that are typically obtained by exploring, unstructured play and interacting with peers
Hold the Phone
…there may be some serious drawbacks to never unplugging.
Dr. Radesky, a clinical instructor in pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and a fellow in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at BMC, set out to better understand how all the new devices at our fingertips affect both parents’ and children’s behavior. What she found may make us look at our digital attachment in a new light, especially as we consider the potential impact on our relationship with our kids and their development.
…babies with trouble self-regulating also tended to have higher levels of exposure to media devices.
…. infants and toddlers whom parents characterized as most fussy also had the most media exposure, even after accounting for other factors such as socio-demographics and home environment. The study noted early childhood is a crucial time for forming lifelong media habits and suggested the benefit of managing children’s media exposure for both amount and content.
Dr. Radesky… recommends, if possible, having another adult come over to help soothe the baby for a bit instead of turning to a media device “babysitter” so the parent can have a moment to his or herself.
And instead of all-out bans, Dr. Radesky suggests establishing a “no-device rule” at certain times of the day or in particular places in the home.
…Although there are no current guidelines, Dr. Radesky has funding from the American Academy of Pediatrics to develop guidelines for how pediatricians can talk to families about mobile media use.
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