In just about every American home there is a TV, phone, Ipad, tablet, computer, and video game device. Most three-year-olds can work an Iphone better than their parents can. Screen time for children in America is everywhere. So then why does the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommend no screen time for children under 18 year of age?
"For children younger than 18 months, avoid use of screen
media other than video-chatting." (AAP)
How does screen time take away from Language Development?
We understand that every parent needs a break from time to time to do the laundry wash the dishes and even make dinner. However plopping your child in front of a TV night after night can actually hinder their language development. Children learn to talk and communicate through interactions with other people. The first several years of life are crucial for your child’s language development. It is when their brain is the most receptive to learning new language. Staring at a screen is one directional, there is no interaction. In fact it is far better to let children engage in unstructured play than it is to plop them in front of the TV.
What about educational shows and videos?
Although these shows seem educational, children under 18 months of age are not learning anything from them. Children of 18 months and younger learn from interactions with people.
Example: Sesame street may have an episode that focuses on shapes and colors however to a 0-18 month old the screen is just a bunch of colorful shapes moving around.
Parents that play with shape sorters, blocks and multicolored ring stackers are able to introduce new vocabulary to their child. This is through eye contact and labeling.
For children under 18 months NO SCREEN time is recommended. However don’t worry if an emergency situation pops up and you have to plop your little one in front of a screen for a few minutes. But don’t make a habit out of it.
Here are some alternatives to screen time that are beneficial to your child's development.
-going for a walk
"Let them get a little bored, That's how they learn to entertain themselves and make discoveries, and that's when they can think."- Marie Evans Schmidt