Growing Readers is a monthly article offering parents and caregivers information on early childhood development and how to foster young readers and learners.
The presence of screens is increasing in our world, but how often should young children be exposed to media? Not all screen time is equal, and if you co-view or co-play games with your child, the screen is used just like any other tool, like a book or a board game, and can be useful.
It’s the human interaction from which children learn, not the tool itself. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no media screen time for children under 2 (except for Facetime videos with family and friends), no solo media screen time for 18-24 month olds, and no more than 1 hour per day for 2-5 year olds. Too much media use has been linked to lack of sleep, obesity, behavior problems, and delays in learning and social skills.
Don’t fret! The library can show you apps and media, such as Tumblebooks, for you and your child to use together. We also have “analog” methods of learning, like puzzles, toys, children’s microscopes, board games, and, of course, books!
If you do use a screen with your child, reinforce what you have taught with real-world examples. Take a walk to find objects in nature. Roll cars down a slide to test physics. Use blocks to teach engineering. Young children are natural explorers of the world around them.
“If you’re a grown-up interested in this subject, check out Screen Time: How Electronic Media — From Baby Videos to Educational Software — Affects Your Young Child by Lisa Guernsey,” she adds. “The research is fascinating, and the author does not guilt trip parents who let their kids use screens.”