Children under two years of age should not be tinkering with touchscreen devices as it might impede on their social and communication skills, the American Academy of Pediatrics said.
The group said that from 0 months to two years old, a baby’s brain is just starting to develop. If the baby spends all his/her time in front of the computer screen, he/she may not develop the social skills one will only get when interacting with an actual person.
There are some contentions to this, however. Most parents find it easy these days to have a moment of peace and quiet when their toddlers are busy playing with an app on their tablets. Most of the families I came across airports, malls and other public places stick their kids with tablets and iPhones, so that they won’t bother them while they do their own adult thing like shopping, grocery or checking with immigration.
Fisher Price recently came out with its Apptivity Case, a rattle toy and iPhone case all in one. The toy said it fits children six months and above, which means that even babies who cannot even eat solid food can now play with an iPhone. I still find it difficult though to wrap my head around the idea of seeing a child play with the most ubiquitous children’s toy while playing with an Apple app.
Education Versus Social and Communication Skills
There is no use in discounting the fact that touchscreen devices will allow your child to learn more about technology and how they work. Eventually, these kids are going to have to face a world so technologically advance that they might no longer have to drive their own cars. And although introducing them to technology this early is something that will benefit them in the end, there is another end of that spectrum—one where your kids will not be able to learn the necessary social skills to make them well-rounded and well-balanced individuals.
You are lucky if you can find for your child that balance between a healthy consumption of technology and interaction with other people. But there is simply no app for that. No scientist, expert or researcher has learned how to mix these two important aspects of childhood together. You cannot let your child be ignorant of technology. But at the same time, you cannot let his/her world center around the iPhone or the iPad. He/She has to reach out to other people. Your child also needs to play actual games with actual children.
For now, kids should learn what it feels like to run around the playground and play with other kids. There will be a time when his/her world will be chock-full of devices, and he/she will look back at the time personal communication is still greatly valued.
Sure, touchscreen devices have made life a lot easier for many people. Even those who have yet to embrace technology has started believing in its power, ease and efficiency. But if you have a toddler? Let him/her enjoy life as it is–simple and uncomplicated. Let him/her converse with other children the way we did when we were little. Communication does not always have to happen through optic fibers.