As parents, we all want what's best for our children, including their development and learning. However, with the increasing prevalence of technology in our lives, it's easy to rely on screens to entertain our infants. But, is this a good idea?
Research suggests that excessive screen time can have negative effects on infants' brain development, language skills, and social interaction. Here's what every parent should know about screen time for infants:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends no screen time for infants under 18 months old.
This means that parents should avoid using screens such as televisions, smartphones, or tablets as a way to entertain or soothe their infants. Instead, infants should be encouraged to engage in physical and social activities that promote their development.
- Screen time can negatively affect language skills and cognitive development.
Infants learn language and communication skills through face-to-face interactions with caregivers and other people. Excessive screen time can limit these interactions and, as a result, hinder language development and cognitive abilities.
- Screen time can lead to sleep problems and obesity.
The blue light emitted by screens can disrupt the circadian rhythms of infants, leading to sleep problems. Additionally, excessive screen time can contribute to a sedentary lifestyle, which can increase the risk of obesity and other health problems.
- Interactive screens and educational apps may not be as beneficial as once thought.
While some interactive screens and educational apps claim to enhance infant learning and development, research is inconclusive. Additionally, these apps can still lead to a sedentary lifestyle and limit face-to-face interactions.
So, what can parents do to limit screen time and promote healthy development for their infants?
- Limit screen time and prioritize face-to-face interactions.
The AAP recommends no screen time for infants under 18 months old, and a maximum of one hour per day for children 18 to 24 months old. Parents should prioritize face-to-face interactions and activities that promote development.
- Use screens together and in moderation.
When screens are used, parents should use them with their infants and limit the time. This can provide opportunities for parents and infants to engage in activities together and foster social and emotional development.
- Encourage physical activity and outdoor play.
Infants should be encouraged to engage in physical activities that promote development, such as tummy time, crawling, and walking. Outdoor play can also provide opportunities for social interaction and exploration.
In conclusion, while it may be tempting to use screens to entertain or soothe infants, excessive screen time can have negative effects on their development and well-being. By limiting screen time, prioritizing face-to-face interactions, and encouraging physical activity and outdoor play, parents can promote healthy development for their infants.