After months of playing sock puppets with one hand while typing client emails with the other, many parents have finally succumbed to the greatest distractor on earth: screens. But with studies showing that extended screen time can be deleterious to children’s cognitive development, what’s a stressed-out parent to do? The key is balance. Here, we’ll review the facts about toddler screen time, including the short- and long-term consequences, and offer tips to help limit technology use at home.
Dangers of Technology for Kids: Short and Long-Term Effects
If the iPad has become your toddler’s third arm, it’s time to think about what effects screens can have on his or her development. Although technology is an excellent tool for teens and adults, it can be harmful to young children during early development.
“Results show that one-hour and two-hour exposure to light from self-luminous devices (computers, tablets, cell phones) significantly suppressed melatonin by approximately 23% and 38% respectively. Compared to our previous studies, these results suggest that adolescents may be more sensitive to light than other populations.” — M. Figueiro PhD
Short-Term Effects of Technology:
- Reduced melatonin production, which causes difficulty sleeping
- Difficulties paying attention
- Forming sedentary habits
- Poor posture
Many of the short-term effects of screen time will eventually become even more harmful in the long run. Always remember to talk to your child’s doctor if you’re noticing anything particularly troublesome.
Long-Term Effects of Technology:
- Chronic sleep issues like insomnia
- Chronic depression
- Chronic anxiety
- Attention deficit disorders
- Obesity from overeating and sedentary habits
- Musculoskeletal discomfort from poor posture
In January 2019, The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a working paper that delves into further detail. Read it here: Impacts of Technology Use on Children: Exploring Literature on the Brain, Cognition, and Well-Being
Screen Time for Young Children: How Much is Too Much?
Research by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children ages 18 months to 5 years old should only be exposed to one hour a day of high-quality screen time. The association also recommends that parents participate by talking about what they’re watching and relating it to their children’s lives. Focusing on “active” screen time (like watching a short program as a family on a TV in the living room and then talking about it) versus “passive” screen time (like a child watching an iPad alone) can be a helpful way to think about it. Screen time before 18 months old is strongly discouraged.
Screen time can affect how children sleep, so avoid it within a few hours of bedtime. Consider making the three hours before bedtime technology-free — a technique that’s helpful for both children and adults.
Using Technology in Education: The Vivvi Approach
At Vivvi, we believe in moderation. There’s a time and place for technology in children’s lives. But screen-time can also have short- and long-term effects on development.
The Vivvi Inquiry-Based Learning Model, a student-led approach, is based around a framework of developmental milestones. We focus on the core development stages, taking cues from children’s natural curiosity and developing ever changing monthly curriculum that encourages them to dive into the things they’re most interested in. Since children at Vivvi are ages 0-5 we don’t use technology as a part of our educational approach in the classroom. Instead, our hands-on, screen-free activities help children connect with themselves, each other, and the world around them.
We do use technology to support the family experience “behind the scenes” by communicating with parents via an app called Brightwheel. From updates throughout the day on meal and nap times, to campus updates, photos, videos and even payment through the app, we use Brightwheel to streamline communication and logistics to make parent’s lives a little easier.
To learn more about our learning model or book a tour of our New York City campuses please contact us.