Parents should share screen time with kids

By Shayna Brouker • Published: April 24th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

There’s been much ado about kids spending too much time online, but a new study offers parents some practical advice for helping them scroll, click and surf for best results: Show them how.

The conclusion draws from a study published in the journal Child Development that looked at how toddlers learned how to piece together a puzzle on a tablet. One group had a “ghost demonstration” in which the program moved the pieces on the screen. The other group had adults show them. The tots who learned from the adults versus the computer were better at putting together the puzzle.

Researchers explained that since technology is novel for such young children, having an adult show them the ropes can enhance learning. An adult also knows a child’s abilities better than a computer and can build on them. The findings expand on previous research that shows that when parents read to their kids, kids become better readers, and the simple act of reading together strengthens family bonds. You can start reading to your child as early as 6 months of age.

That said, it’s not realistic to expect parents to supervise screentime 24/7. The expectation is moderation. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that kids younger than 18 months stay screen-free and hands on, but suggests supervised screentime for kids younger than 2 (but not younger than 18 months).

Of course, educational or not, the pull of animated digital cartoons is strong so pediatricians recommend putting together a family media plan to regulate screentime. Then settle in with your little one, fire up the tablet and get to learning!