Is Screen Time Good or Bad For Our Babies’ and Children’s Health?

Babies and toddlers love playing with smartphones and tablets, and quickly get the hang of them.

When you’re a busy parent, it’s an easy way to keep your baby or young child entertained while you cook the dinner or do some chores.

study recently released by The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) spurred the debate even further when it investigated the role that cell phones have on our brain activity. While the report didn’t decisively link health detriments to cell phone usage, the ongoing questions have certainly made it easy for us to question what the long-term effects really are. And with the way in which technology is being adopted by our kids at younger ages than ever before, it’s even more important to investigate if cell phone usage is a health hazard.

There may be a place for interactive media that encourages you and your child to communicate while you’re playing alongside each other.

Part of the reason to avoid screen time is that babies and toddlers need lots of physical activity.

Physical play contributes to your child’s mental and emotional development. Playing with mud and splashing water may be messy, but it’s part of the learning system.

Language, numbers and books —  there’s a show and app for everything; and if your child’s interacting and engaged, they’re learning something. Just be cautious about catering to their attention span.

The educational value of technology and the most effective learning happens when pre-schoolers interact with others, so look for applications that allow you to have fun exploring and creating things together.

How much screen time with TV’s, cellphone or tablets should my child have?

Common advice for the babies under 2 is to allow no screen time at all.

But if you decide to let your baby or toddler play with your device, try keeping it to 15 or 20 minutes, when their attention is likely to fade anyway just be ready with something new and interesting to do next.

The typical TV show for children is about 15 minutes long, so up to half an hour is a good gauge for a screen time session. Beyond that, they may not actually be absorbing anything, which is why TV shows for children are so short.

For older children, doctors suggest a limit of one or two hours of total screen time a day. That means TV, DVDs and computers as well as mobile devices. This is also a common recommendation in countries like the US, Canada and Australia.

It’s not often we associate ‘benefits’ with screen time, but when used in moderation there are some benefits to be for pre-school kids.

It’s all about balance!