Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Reasons to Keep Infants and Toddlers Away from Mobile Technology

A report recently presented to the American Academy of Pediatrics revealed that more than 33% of babies younger than 12 months are using smartphones and tablets. As many as one in seven toddlers are on mobile devices for a minimum of an hour daily. The devices were used to entertain children while their parents ran errands and did household chores, as a calming method, and to put the babies to sleep. What are these wired youngsters doing? Watching TV, calling others, interacting with apps, and playing video games.

While this may seem like you're creating a technology savant, this practice is actually harming your youngster. Here's why you should keep your little one insulated from technology:

  • The National Association for the Education of Young Children has identified that passive screen time (without adult intervention) does not calm children or teach them anything. Interaction with a human is required for both. 
  • Adults can't model appropriate use of technology if the child is using it solo. 
  • Experts at the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development recommend no exposure to electronic screens for children under the age of two years because learning and emotional support needs to come from live humans. 
  • The American Academy of Pediatricians also recommends no TV or other digital screens for those two years of age or less. 
  • Youngsters participating in screen time are sedentary and not learning through active exploration. 
  • Having the the technology out draws you in and attention away from your baby. 
  • Talking to your toddler is more calming than providing a video--and it builds your relationship. 
  • If you're already on the tech train, limit time to 10-15 minutes. It's very hard to remove mobile technology from a little one once you start. 
  • Don't worry about your child "falling behind" technologically. They will pick up the skills just fine at age five years or even later. 
  • Apps labeled "educational" may just be electronic babysitters. 
The good news? The same doesn't seem to hold true for spending time with relatives who live far away through a web cam because it's interactive. And if the parent is participating, the effects are similar to playing together with toys. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Apps for Special Needs - Which Ones are Best?

The development of app technology has led to a proliferation of choices for children, teens, and adults with special needs. There are thousands available, and little time to identify appropriate options. How can you wade through the options and not waste hours or money?

Many people have gone this way before, and you can take advantage of their reviews. Here are some sites that can help your search (click on the name):

Apps for Autism:

Apps for ADHD:
Apps for Disabilities:
Need more help? Science Daily has a new article on choosing apps. 

Leave a comment and share your favorite app!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Video Games and Your Child

Researchers have determined that when children play video games for three or more hours each day, they are more likely to be involved in fights, are more hyperactive, and have less interest in school. These results happen no matter the type of game played.

While the researchers found no link between violent video games and aggression, there was also no effect on social skills or grades for those who played games focusing on puzzles and strategy. The improvement in academics, emotional health, and behavior were found in those who played cooperative or non-violent competition one hour per day or less. Teens who consistently play violent games were also found to have delayed moral judgement.

Need more reasons to limit "screen time"?

  • Teens who play for more than an hour a day run an increased risk of becoming addicted as adults, which may cause them to drop out of college, lose work, or become unable to develop normal social relationships. 
  • Adolescents with autism have more propensity to become addicted, leading to more oppositional behavior, lowered levels of social skills, additional arguments, and home disruption. 
  • Those with ADD/ADHD have worsened social skills, increased aggression, poorer time management, and academic problems. 
How do you set limits on screen time?