Which Screen Is Best?
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In today’s digital world, how can parents instill healthy screen time habits for our kids? What are the best screens for toddlers? This is a good question, because not all screens are created equal! While it might be ideal to avoid screen time altogether—especially for our youngest children—there are some things we can do to instill best practices.
Bigger is better.
When it comes to screens, BIGGER is always BETTER. Research shows that screen size matters when it comes to eye development in children. Dr. Nathan Bonilla-Warford from Bright Eyes Tampa, an optometrist specializing in children’s eye development, says that the smaller the screen the fewer children should be using it. Because kids put smaller gadgets up to their faces, their eyes work harder to focus, requiring them to turn in so that they can see clearly.
The next time your little one asks to watch their favorite show, be mindful of the most preferred options for viewing:
- PREFERRED - TV: If possible, choose the TV rather than an iPad, tablet, or phone so that the child’s eyes are not straining. This option also encourages watching the show together, allowing you to talk about what you’re watching. Take this opportunity to engage with your child, laughing or feeling sad or relating the program to a real-life situation. This activity can better contribute to social development than having a child watch it alone.
- NEXT BEST - Computer, iPad, or tablet on a table: Researchers have discovered that when a tablet is placed in a higher position, such as on a table, it helps to keep the body in a neutral position, with less stress on the body. It’s important to have your child move—take regular breaks, stretch, and change position to avoid pain and encourage good posture. For a list of our favorite apps, click here.
- LEAST PREFERRED - Handheld devices, such as a cell phone: Handheld devices are typically held too close to the child’s eyes, causing them to strain their eyes to focus. Also, children are more distracted on handheld devices, with the ability to move easily from one show to the next. Instead of engaging in one program they switch back and forth and are not focusing on anything.
How Much Screen Time Is Too Much?
This is an important question asked by many parents. You’ll want to establish some boundaries in your home to ensure that your child instills healthy screen time habits. The American Academy of Pediatrics makes the following recommendations:
- BIRTH THROUGH 18 MONTHS: Avoid ALL screen media—phones, tablets, TVs and computers. (It’s OK to video chat with grandparents and far-away friends.)
- 18 MONTHS TO 2 YEARS: It is OK to introduce young children to high-quality children’s media if you watch it with them and help them understand what they’re seeing.
- 2 TO 5 YEARS: Limit screen use to one hour a day of high-quality programs designed for children. Watch with your children; explain what they’re seeing and how it applies to the world around them.
While these guidelines are helpful, remember that time with YOU is what your child needs most!
To recap, when you are using digital media, be sure to use a screen that’s as BIG as possible, limit screen time to the age-appropriate recommendations (or less), and most importantly, engage with your child while watching together to build social relationships and communication.
To learn simple and effective strategies to help get your little one talking, check out our Talk on Track (newborn-14 months) and Time to Talk: Toddler Course (15-36 months). We’d love to equip you to experience the joy of your little one talking to you! If you've ever asked the question, "does my child need speech therapy?" you can check out our free 45-min webinar here!
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