It’s natural to worry about how much time your young child spends in front of a screen. Some people have argued that exposing young children to tablets, TV or computers can only be bad. Although some experts recommend limiting screen time or even avoiding it altogether for very young children, Professor Lydia Plowman from the University of Edinburgh believes that when used in moderation, technology can be a really valuable tool to support children’s development. We know that whatever the experts may say, sometimes a parent cannot help but use screens to help them in their day.
So, if you choose to use screens, Professor Lydia Ploughman offers some tips which will help you to ensure that your little ones’ use of screens helps, rather than hinders their development.
- Try not to leave a baby or toddler alone with a screen. They need interaction to develop so watch with them and talk about what they’re watching...
- Try to limit the amount of screen time young children have - a few minutes at a time is enough for very young children.
- Make sure the content is aimed directly at their age group. CBeebies programmes are designed for the very young and are created in close consultation with early years experts. For example the movements of the Twirlywoos reflect schemas – or the patterns of play which help children learn. The repetition of the programmes allows children to mimic the actions and offers an opportunity to respond.
- Try not to have the TV on as “background noise”. It’s hard for children to filter different sounds out, so for them to develop good listening skills they need to be able to focus on whatever they’re listening to – i.e. you!
- It’s a good idea to take the activities seen on the screen into the real world. You can use the songs and actions you’ve watched together and interpret them in the real world as part of your play together.
For more tips and things to consider when you started on apps and tablets for young children, you can read our 10 First Steps top tips article here.