Has your iPhone become your new babysitter? More and more I observe that parents have started handing their smart phones off to their young children as if it were a toy. New research has been done to see just how pervasive new technology is, and what type of effect this will have on future generations.
In one of the first studies to examine screen time from birth, a group found that almost half the families with incomes above $75,000 had downloaded apps specifically for their young children, compared with one in eight of the families earning less than $30,000. The study revealed affluent children are likely to use mobile educational games while those in low-income households are the most likely to have televisions in their bedrooms.
Not only is there concern regarding the disparities in technological access, but these numbers also contradict a long-standing report by the American Academy of Pediatricians stating that screen time (watching TV, using an iPad, or even using a computer) for children age 2 and under is detrimental to their health. Screen time gets in the way of a child’s crucial social and physical interactions that are part of brain development.
We also know that children who have the most screen time are more likely to be obese due to interference with physical activity. As children get older, spending excess screen time can also interfere with homework, family time, and creating relationships with peers.
What about reading to your children? The study also reports that among all children under 2, the average child spends a little over an hour watching TV or DVDs daily. Only 23 minutes a day is the average amount of time a child was read to.
What do you think? Are parents foolishly disregarding the standards set by pediatricians? Or can “educational apps” be a good learning tool?
Dr. Bruce Feinberg