Sunday, October 17, 2010

Toddlers and Technology

Today's New York Times had an article about children and iPhones. Apparently, toddlers as young as 18 months are hooked on videos, games and apps that can be found on iPhones and many even know how to manipulate the phones themselves.
The article discusses if this technological involvement is positive or negative for the children. Apparently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two do not watch any television. The article explores if cell phones are part of that recommendation as well. I would posit that all phones, TVs, computers and gadgets fall into the same category of "technological entertainment," one that is neutral at best, and possibly harmful.
I have to admit- when I was pregnant with my first child, I was adamant that we would not have a TV and that my child would not ever watch ANY videos or shows. I just could not understand why someone would put their child in front of a box and let them sit there for hours. When Y was first born, we stuck to that plan. We kept him busy with toys, books and outings, not to mention his rigorous therapy schedule. I only had one child and he was my entire focus
I do not remember how it started exactly, but one day, probably after A was born, it just was not enough. I needed a break. He was bored. And so we bought our first Uncle Moishy DVD. For those of you not familiar with Uncle Moishy- he is kind of a Jewish Mr. Rogers who sings songs about Judaism and, most importantly, listening to one's parents.
Fast forward a few years. We still do not have a TV but we do have a portable DVD player for the kids, so they do not mess up our computers. On average they watch about 30 minutes a day. Some days it is much more. We do try to be aware of the things they are watching to make sure the messages are age appropriate and in tune with our religious beliefs.Our repertoire now includes Sesame Street, Dora, Caillou and Charlie and Lola. And of course, the always beloved Uncle Moishy.
I never thought I would be one of those moms who says: "I need a half hour to make dinner/make a phone call or just plain old breathe- here is a video" but I think sooner or later it happens to most of us. The key is, and I think the article mentions this too, to set limits. To not fall into the trap of using videos as a constant babysitter for our children. It is hard because our children would often be happy to sit there for hours and often protest when we turn the box off. But turn it off we must!
I do think they are stimulated and can learn some things from videos and games. Y, whose speech is very delayed, can sing along to every Uncle Moishy song and can copy every move Uncle Moishy makes on screen. I am not sure where that will get him in life, but it does show that he has learned something.
But children learn  best by doing and feeling, by interacting with the real world. And our job is to make sure they have plenty of opportunity to do just that. So time to get off the computer and take your little one on an adventure...
How do you feel about toddlers and technology?

1 comment:

  1. We frequently use Muppets and Baby Genius videos on Youtube to help get the contact lens out of Ariella's eye. It can be so hard to get her to open it up wide enough to get the lens out without it hitting her eyelid and startling her, and the videos get her excited enough to get her eyes wide open. I also used Baby Einstein for a few days when she was home sick, since all she wanted to do was cuddle and watch it, then nurse and sleep. We used them a lot when we started patching her, since it forced her to use the weak eye more than just regular playing would....but not for more than 10-15 minutes a night. Now we patch her first thing after I get the lens in every morning and we just play and eat and go to school, so she gets plenty of visual stimulation that way.

    However, we do not plop her down in front of it at less than a year old as a babysitter. We much prefer books to videos whenever possible, but they definitely do have their uses.