Toddler and Tablets

baby and smartphoneWe’re living in a technological age; it’s all around us. So it only makes sense that children, toddlers and even infants are exposed to iPads, smartphones and tablets at a high rate. Tablet use in young children and toddlers has experts split on how much use is appropriate, if any.

Some experts favor an “unplugged” approach, where toddlers and young children experience limited screen time. Instead, the focus is on human interaction, allowing young children to create social skills, learn about problem solving and develop motor skills through hands-on activities and unstructured playtime with others.

Certainly, not all smartphone and tablet use is harmful. Other experts believe technology should be a part of a baby’s life from birth, linking  improvements in literacy skills, number recognition and academic engagement to tablet use. When used appropriately, smartphones and tablets can be great learning tools for children. Google Play and the Apple App Store are filled with educational apps designed to help children develop creativity, language arts, word building and basic math skills.

To help parents make a decision on just how much screen time their toddler should be exposed to, we asked the advice of UMass Memorial pediatrician and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Megan Church, MD. Dr. Church said that “technology can be a great tool for children during important times, such as the use of an iPad for distraction during a procedure. However, in general we recommend limited use for toddlers and young children. Childhood is a wonderful time for rapid growth and development and there is some concern that excessive use of electronic devices will stunt that development.”

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