Is screen time for babies and toddlers – Good or Bad ?


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Is screen time for babies and toddlers – Good or Bad ? We have all faced this dilemma at one or the other point after becoming a mom.

In this article I will try answering questions like – Is it bad for babies and toddler to watch TV or watch videos on phone ? How does screen time affect babies and toddlers? And why it can be bad for their development ? How much TV time or screen time is Ok for babies and toddlers ? Is there any way we can manage screen time and make the most of it ? Are educational videos good for babies and toddlers ?

Before I get started with “Is screen time for babies and toddlers – good or bad ? Let us talk about an incident that happened and which got me thinking about this.

Few days back when I was searching for a preschool for my toddler, one of the criteria’s I had was that the preschool should not have a TV or an Audio visual room (as it is referred to nowadays). While I was telling this to a friend, she mentioned – Why what is wrong with TV or screen time? They are kids after all !

I did not respond then but then I thought to myself – When did watching TV or working on computers become a symbol of childhood?

You can call me crazy or an over protective parent but I do not encourage screen time of any kind – TV, tablet, phone or computer for kids below 2 years. And I prefer limited screen time after the kid turns two.

Some people tell me that in this era of technology this is essential. Yes it is and our kids will learn when the time is right.

How does screen time affect babies and toddlers and why it is said to be bad for their development ?

Is screen time for babies and toddler good or bad

Children grow and acquire skills rapidly during the first five years of their life. What we do during these years lays the foundation for the rest of their life.

Before we go ahead, let us talk about why I believe that we should not introduce kids to TV, computers or mobile and what effect does screen time have on babies and toddlers.

1.   Effect on Gross motor skills development

This is the age when babies and toddlers are practicing and developing their gross motor skills.

If you are wondering what are Gross motor skills – then in simple words these are skills that are involved in movement and co-ordination of arms, legs and other large body parts. Their development is required for actions such as walking, running, swimming etc.

Now, Gross motor skills are developed mainly by practicing. Sitting passively in front of TV can result in these skills not being developed and thus hampering in meeting normal developmental milestones.

Do you know if gross motor skills are not developed properly then a child may fail to meet simple milestones like playing with friends and at times even simple things like standing ?

We must avoid screen time because we want our kids to be physically active. I want them to jump around, dance, run and play. We want them to be able to live their life fully.

2.   Effect on Speech and social skills development

When kids spend their time in front of TV, mobiles and computers which need them to just watch or tap or press buttons, speech development and social skills development gets hampered.

Have you ever wondered why you nowadays hear most of the moms around you complaining that their toddler does not speak much ?

There are two reasons, one they don’t hear much of their family members conversing and second that they are being understood without having to speak much. So there is no need for them to speak. Moreover smart phone and TV encourages them to “do” rather than “talk”.

At young age, kids are learning and developing their social and language skills, so this time can be spent instead in reading stories, playing with toys and talking to other kids and any other activity that requires them to be active involved rather than being a passive listener.

We should avoid screen time because we want our kids to be actively involved, interact socially and play with each other and not just sit together busy with their tablets.

3.   Effect on child’s Brain development

Have you noticed when your kid sits in from of TV he does not even blink at times?

Screen time does not encourage your kid to perform a task or encourages him to think. Thus it does not help your kid develop fine motor skills or helps in child brain’s development by encouraging problem solving (also called cognitive development).

I believe we should switch off our TV, computers, tabs because the time spent on them can be used instead in acquiring life skills, or exposing your kid to variety of DIY crafts and activities or solving puzzles or reading books.

The more exposure you give to your kid the better he will get to know the world around him.

4.   Effect on attention span and behaviour

Do you know studies have linked screen time in kids with shorter attention time spans and increased aggressions?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under 2 do not watch television as it does not help with brain development and actually can cause some harm to children’s brains over time. For kids aged 2 to 5 AAP recommends to spend no more than an hour a day with screens of any kind – TV, tablet, phone, or computer.

I believe watching TV can hamper with our kids development. And even after the kid’s grow up it’s a good idea to limit the screen time.

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How much TV time or screen time is Ok for babies and toddlers ?

I would go with the experts here. Screen time or TV time is not recommended for babies and kids under two years. After 2 years you can expose your kids to screen time for 30 minutes. And as they grow up you can extend this time limit but to no more than an hour.

Last update was on: 23rd February 2018 1:15 pm
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How to manage screen time and make the most of it

Below guidelines can help you in managing screen time and make the most out of it:

1) Choose age appropriate content for your kid

2) Review the content that your kid is exposed to

3) Choose content that encourage interactivity rather than passive watching

4) Be around and be involved along with your kid and talk about what is happening

5) Set up rules around screen time from day

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Are educational videos good for babies and toddlers ?

I personally do not believe in showing educational videos to babies as they are very young to understand them and there are multiple other activities that you can do with them so why rely on educational videos ?

For toddlers and above any content can be useful only if its presented in the right way. Showing videos because they are educational through out the day is not going to be useful in long term. Better to have your toddler playing with open ended toys, or learning life skills. Or even just jumping around building his own toys from things in the house.

These education videos can be useful if you watch them along with your kid for limited time and make the process interactive.

Liked this post ?

You may also want to check out another of our popular post How can you contribute to your child’s growth and development.

 

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Mom of an adorable toddler, reader, crafter, blogger, traveler, in IT by profession and now the happy and proud founder of "Sharing Our Experiences". Neha believes that by sharing our learning and experiences we can help, encourage and inspire each other and touch the lives of many others who may be in a similar situation. She shares her experiences on parenting, crafts, using products and blogging via Sharing Our Experiences. Read more in 'About Us' and 'Meet the Founder' sections.

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26 Comments
  1. I don’t give Meera phone but I always have TV running in background. What a parenting fail.
    Thanks for the share . So much to learn

    • Thank you so much dear 🙂 Nothing is a parenting failure we are all learning, One step each day. We were not born moms so its a journey we undertake and to be honest there is no right and wrong. Completely agree there is so much to learn 🙂

  2. SCreen time has been a saviour esp when I am alone with baby. It needs to be introduced in a managed way and with stimulation and interaction.

  3. You have just not mentioned that screen is not good for babies, but also have explained it so well elaborating each point. As you said speech development and social skills development gets hampered too.

    • Thank you so much Hena, yes have tried to explain reasons why screen time can be bad for kids and hamper over all growth and development. With so many apps nowadays shared as must have for kids development. It becomes imperative for parents to not fall for marketing

  4. I think it is no longer a question of keeping kids away from screens..they are omnipresent. It is about the quality and quantity of content that they are exposed to and we as parents need to be mindful of this.

  5. This is an eye-opening post for those who promote gadgets use for kids. Screen time hindered their overall development and we all are unaware of it. great read

    • Thank you so much Bushra :-). Yes nowadays with so many learning apps it gets very confusing. but I feel no screen time till 2 year old really helps kids in their growth and development

  6. I do have a friend whose child has started showing early signs of autism and delayed speech. The pediatricians attributed to the child being left constantly with ipads and other such devices to play and not getting enough real-life interaction

    • That is so sad to hear, I wish the kid shows signs of improvements soon. Yes I have heard this from multiple other parents, Screen time is the biggest cause of delay in speech development nowadays

  7. You have raised some valid points. With so many screens available it is hard to keep the children away from it, but knowing about its ill effects we can certainly control it.

    • Thank you so much dear. True in today’s world screen time, it effects and associated challenges are difficult to deal with. All we parents can do is try.. Thanks for stopping by

  8. Absolutely bang on.. Screen time is something which we expose to our kids with. Just a few minutes and that never ends.. ending up being a habit. Lovely post and I agree to each point here.

  9. This question is on everyones mind it seems- good analysis . I am sure it will be helpful for young parents

    • Thank you so much.. I am glad you liked it.. With changing times we parents have new challenges and hoping this will be of help to new parents.. Thanks for stopping by ☺️

  10. Your every point is really valid as a mother I too feel same ..that keeping some schedule for anything is really important

  11. My daughter and daughter-in-law have strict rules about letting their children watch on line. I am more lax, but then that’s the privilege of being a grandmother. 🙂

  12. While I agree with you about encouraging babies to use their brains and muscles it is also necessary sometimes to have a distraction that can bring about peace. I have seen the small screen come in handy when a parent is driving and baby is strapped in the back….. Similarly, a screen can give parents some time for sensible conversation. Of course there has to be a moderation and balance in its use but you cannot completely ban or condemn screen time.

    • Thanks for your inputs. And I am glad you raised these points. For distraction while driving songs and nursery rhymes worked for us. And regarding sensible conversations some toys worked for us. I understand that there is no one right way but facts and statistics suggest that no screen time below 2 years is a good idea. After 2 years screen time in moderation could be good. I think ts all about finding out what works for a family and having our own priorities. And these priorities influence our decisions.

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