There is no shortage of research data on infants and toddlers and “TV time”. Common Sense Media reports 40% of 2-4 years olds and more than 50% of 5-8 year olds use smart phones, iPads and other similar devices. These 2011 stats suggest that infants and toddlers spend twice as much time with screen media as books (possibly even a higher statistic today). Debates rage on about the advantages or disadvantages in using these devices on a regular basis. Whatever your stance, it’s generally understood to be a good idea to try and reduce the amount of time our children spend watching TV, and this is something that we certainly support. We’re not from the “no TV at all” school, just not 5 hours a day!
Over recent years, other forms of technology have become TV supplement/replacements but it’s interesting to note, not everyone counts these towards “TV time”. Some parents don’t count watching a move on a laptop. For others, playing a game on their iPad, be it educational or not, apparently does not factor in their minds. Also interesting to note that Ruckus Media statistic released recently suggests that more than 60% of parents have at least 5 kid-focused apps on their mobile devices hinting at using these often as a crutch to complement their increasingly busy lives. We also understand and appreciate this need.
But at the heart of all this remains what we consider to be our central philosophy which suggests that any of these tools can be useful if they involve parents working closely alongside. In fact, the Early Learning Project at Georgetown University supports the notion that babies and toddlers can in fact benefit from moderate amounts of screen time. Usability is often easier for them with these tools (as we see with this video and studies report good retention. The key, they suggest, is that it’s parental engagement that bridges the gap between the 2-D and 3-D world.
Books or iPads both offer very useful tools for assisting with a child’s learning and the notion of screen time denial may not be the most appropriate solution. While we like the traditional approach and offer the tools to support it, we do promote the use of technological advancements. Rather than using apps solely as a method for distraction, we really push for full parental engagement, even at 15-30 minutes a day. As of right now, there’s not an app for that.