Sharing electronics with toddler is not bad per se since our kids today are growing up in a world vastly different than the world we were raised in. It’s a wired world; a world powered by computers and run on automatic programs. Unless you take your child, leave your computer, and go and live in the middle of the Alaska wilderness, both you and your toddler are likely to have daily interaction with electronic devices every day of your lives.
Is this good or bad? It’s scarcely the time now to debate that. This is how the world is, this is how the world will be, and there’s no going back now. What is important to question and wonder about is how we should live in this computerized, wired world.
And as parents of toddlers, we wonder: how much screentime should we give our toddlers? Is it okay to go with the flow, let happen what will happen, or should we try to regulate the way our toddlers interact with electronic devices? Are computers, tablets, and game stations good for children, or are they dumbing down our toddlers?
You want to raise a child who’ll run computers, not have his life run by computers. That means that at this age, when your child is still developing at a tremendous pace, you need to restrict the amount of time he plays with your ipad, smartphone, computer, or other devices, as well as the amount of time spent watching TV.
Pediatricians and child development experts actually recommend that a child under two not be allowed to use or watch any of these things. Once your toddler is past two, some screentime is not bad, but it should never be more than one or two hours a day and never more than fifteen minutes at a time.
If, occasionally, your child is in the middle of something particularly entrancing and wants to clump two sessions as one, have him get up, run around the house, and look out the window at something distant before he goes back to his device
Once you’ve set your limits and decided to stick with them, you’ll be able to really enjoy introducing your child to the wonderful world of computers, tablets, and smartphones—without a pang of guilt. Fun devices you might want to buy include:
• Toddler computers – learning devices with a keyboard, made to look like your laptop
• Toddler tablets – imitation tablets that really work, if by that we mean entertain your toddler.
• Toddler smartphones—touch-screen devices that produce sounds, lights, or action in response to your toddler pressing buttons.
Of course, there are also fun educational programs on your television and toddler computer games such as Reading Rabbit Toddler that you can install on your computer. Sharing electronics with toddler such as these devices as well as TV shows and computer programs can help introduce your child to new concepts and cement old ones; just don’t rely on them to do all the teaching. And make using electronics a social activity: talk with your child about what he is learning, seeing, and doing, and help him express in words what he is thinking and doing during screentime sessions.