Research shows that children who have access to too much screen time per day can have delayed speech, and lack social and emotional skills. We see this when children have a hard time looking adults or other children in the eyes. Some children lack the confidence to ask a friend to play or for help. They are becoming accustomed to looking at a screen for artificial interactions. It seems like it’s almost natural to look down now, rather than look someone in the eyes. We are making it harder to teach our children basic common courtesy, such as greeting one another. When our youngest learners are walking into school while looking down at a screen, they are missing the important human contact of saying “Good Morning.” When they sit in a restaurant with their families, and they are looking at screens rather than talking about the world around them, we are decreasing their opportunities to learn the skills necessary to interact with others. We know that young kids learn language best through interactions and engagement with other people, and their parents are a vital source for that interaction and engagement.
Screens, of any kind, are meant to be used as tools, not as a replacement for human contact. The American Pediatric Association recommends that screen time be limited to no more than 1 hour a day for children 2 to 6 years of age. And it is recommended that limits continue throughout childhood. So it is best to set healthy patterns of use now. Good habits begin at a young age. There is no replacement for conversation and interacting with one another. Our children learn by example. Our screens cannot replace meaningful and deep, and silly conversations. Our voices are important for our children to hear, and our facial expressions need to be seen, and our children’s voices also need to be heard, as they develop the ability to express themselves verbally.
The next time you are about to give your child screen time, ask yourself: is this a replacement for human contact? Is this for learning, or is this so you, yourself, can have a few minutes of quiet?
Let’s keep talking to our children!
Written by guest blogger,
Robin Pappas, Director of Early Learning