Many kids learn to use tablets when they’re very young, but health experts worry about what that means for their future. It’s not uncommon for busy parents to pass their toddler an electronic device for the purpose of keeping the child occupied; this has even led tech companies to create tablets designed just for kids.
Some worry that screen time on electronic devices doesn’t provide benefits for young ones, and that it would be better for these children to spend that time on developmental activities and interacting with other people. Since tablets have only been around a few years, there is little research on the subject.
It has been found, however, that lots of time spent in front of a screen can delay children’s social development and increase the risk of behavioral problems as they get older. Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, reminds us, “The single most important thing for children is time with parents and caregivers. Nothing is more important in terms of social development. If time with the tablet comes at the expense of that, that’s not good.”
Expert opinions vary on whether or not tablets have educational benefits. But as Susan Linn, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, says, “Babies and young children are spending huge amounts of time with screen media when really what they need is hands-on creative play, active time and face-to face time with the people that love them.”