Phones and babies!
What a minefield. Some reports say they are beneficial for brain development. Others say they disconnect us from each other. The use of phones by babies and children is increasing rapidly so what do we know? I read a great article on this by Jenny Radesky and wanted to share;
1. There are no real guidelines on what is a beneficial amount of use of handheld devices for children. The jury is still out on this.
2. Research suggests that despite videos for children having benefits, they are not as beneficial as real life interactions. Apps can be as effective as real life interactions for language learning for children up to 24 months.
3. E books can help children learn to read but children have also been shown to be distracted by animated features rather than follow a story.
4.Using phones to distract children having medical procedures seems to have benefits but using phones as a “shut up” toy at mealtimes or when a child is distressed may effect a child’s ability to self regulate.
5. Educational apps may replace the important bonding time that reading, writing and creative play provides for parents and babies. This focus on individual learning via apps may lead to a displacement of traditional sharing activities which help to provide family connection.
6. Phones being around can generally distract parents from people present although features such as facetime can bring more connection.
7. Phones and devices can be useful if the parent is present and participating alongside the child so it’s a shared activity
From all this reading it seems that devices have a place to help us learn, share and connect but this must never be a replacement for real life enriching interaction between parents and babies. A balance of screen time and nourishing, physical and shared connecting experiences is vital. Reliance on screens and devices to calm and pacify babies and children could lead to a generation of screen addicted, emotional fragile children who NEED devices for validation, reassurance and emotional regulation. This thought scares me and awakens the idea of big brother broadcasting messages to the masses creating comparison & joyless lives based on consumerism.
Phones can not replace touch which is vital for babies. Touch is a baby’s first language and literally fires up and illuminates the brain, helping to wire it at a speed of over 1,000,000 connections per second. Technology is an incredible tool but for babies the real power of brain development lies in touch. Maybe it’s time to check in with ourselves. How much do you touch your phone compared to your baby and the baby you love?
For the full article on the findings of research, click here