Very young children learn and develop by interacting with people, not screens.
That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under age two, and that older children limit screen time to no more than one or two hours every day. This includes television, phones, computers, and tablets. Too much screen time can impact brain development and lead to attention and sleep problems or obesity. It also takes away from activities children need for their development, such as playing outside, hands-on activities, and interacting with other children or adults.
In the last few years, toddler and preschool apps have become very popular. Apps can be extremely interactive, with games that build various skills such as critical thinking, visual and auditory processing, and tactile or hands-on experiences. Following the AAP’s guidelines, we do not recommend using apps for children under age 2.
Like any technology or media, apps should be carefully selected and monitored by parents. If using apps, parents should look for ones that are conducive to learning, ensure a worthy success rate, and are fun and enjoyable.
- Use apps that emphasize vocabulary, articulation, critical thinking, penmanship/hand writing, art, music and opportunities for peer interactions. There are apps for various subjects such as, emotions, shapes, farms, professions, sensory (sound, touch, visual tracking, sequencing, and adaptive skills, etc.).
- Choose apps or games that meet children’s functional and developmental abilities, not just the recommended age. It’s most important that children enjoy the game, and are successful at it. Move to a higher level only after a child has mastered a game or skill.
- Read user reviews and comments to find games conducive to learning.
- Choose games that allow opportunities for turn-taking at least half of the time so children learn to share and play with others, thus increasing social communication skills and compliance.
- Children should only use apps/play games for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Monitor your child’s sensory response. If the bright lights or quick movements are over stimulating for your child, stop playing.