Anna Nguyen, editor of Philly.com/HealthyKids, wrote this for the blog.
Interrupting rapid brain growth for babies, sleep deprivation, and delayed development were a few reasons a pediatric occupational therapist recently called for parents, teachers, and governments to ban the use of all handheld devices by children younger than 12.
The Huffington Post article drew more than 2.3 million "likes" on Facebook, as well as postings from those who said the research cited was flawed.
Here is what a few of our "Healthy Kids" contributors had to say:
The trouble with electronic devices is that they do not teach a child how to play with others. At first, children play in parallel - they play next to each other, but not with each other. Sometime between 15 months and 24 months, they start to interact, responding to one another as their language skills improve. By age 3, children can take turns and verbally respond to one another. Then, by 4 or 5, they can make teams and play sports to some extent. Spending all their time just playing alone on a tablet builds none of the skills they need as adults.
I think a ban is unrealistic, as most of the parents (at least in my office) never take their faces off their screens to interact with their children. - Gary A. Emmett, M.D.,
director of hospital pediatrics at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital & Pediatrics, professor at Thomas Jefferson University.
While I wholeheartedly agree that the overuse of handheld technology by children and adults is negatively affecting the social, emotional, and physical well-being of all of us, the call to ban gives me pause.
Technology is here to stay, and we have no idea what the technological world will look like for our children in five years, not to mention 10 years. We have a responsibility to prepare our children for the future they will inhabit. We should invest in teaching children and parents the developmentally appropriate use of technology and how to do so in moderation. I am much more comfortable with a call to educate and empower parents and children in the use of technology, rather than a call to ban. - Jessica Kendorski,
associate professor of school psychology/applied behavior analysis at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Banning handhelds is too extreme. Parents can approach this developmentally, with kids' using devices under supervision, taking advantage of all of the electronic safeguards available (such as filters and firewalls), then gradually letting kids have more alone time, so by the time children have free use of their devices, they've been taught good habits and values.
Parents should monitor the use of devices well into the teen years; a great many online predators investigated by law enforcement came to light when parents monitored their children's online activities. - Janet Rosenzweig,
for programs and research,
Prevent Child Abuse America.
As for myself, I take the approach of using handheld devices (or any screen time for that matter) in moderation. My 6-year-old and 3-year-old play with each other every afternoon before I turn on a TV before dinner. (This week, they've been reenacting The Nutcracker with stuffed animals after seeing a performance this month. It's fun to watch.) Once in a while, they'll play an app on my phone or educational apps on a tablet. I also try to curb my own screen time - which means not burying myself in my phone when I'm with my children. A call to ban is unrealistic, but a call to teach good habits is a step in the right direction.