Media Technology for Youngsters from a Grandparent's Perspective

Posted by on May 7, 2015 at 4:20 PM

As I sit in a café in downtown Raleigh, sipping on some coffee and knitting a baby sweater, thoughts begin to wander about my grandchildren and the future of technological media advances and its effects upon their education. I laugh inwardly, recalling that my granddaughter actually called me on my daughter’s IPhone at age 10 months and at 15 mos was able to turn off her dad’s program on his ipad and change it to Baby Einstein.

I wonder if by familiarizing them can actually teach new skills to children less than two or three years old or whether one on one parenting and companionship are a better course of action to pursue. My daughter is torn between the dos and don’ts of media management for her toddler.

Speaking as a two year old, I would much rather have my mom read a story to me and point to the characters and objects, as I speak baby talk and get her response. Instead of looking at a video online, I would much prefer dragging out and rattling pots and pans from under the sink, trying to fit them into each other. Or, get shoes out the closet and try them on to see which ones match. So much better than the substitute teacher on screen, mom might even decide to take me for a nature walk. There, I could actually touch and smell flowers or stomp in a puddle or feel cool drops of water from a nearby fountain.

I don’t believe that children need to be constantly bombarded with visual stimuli nor do they need to be occupied with passive watching. For a small child, it is only natural to be drawn to the exciting colors and sounds coming out of a box. Parents can easily deduce that children want to watch a video although it’s merely an entrapment.

This so called ‘biological imperative’ is part of the human survival mechanism, where we are naturally drawn to moving images and to fluctuating contrasts on the screen. Not only will they become less active, but miss spending real time with family in the next room. Later, when the child gets about three years of age, it would mean something as they learn how to use rules, gain increased eye and hand coordination, acquire computer strategy in games and puzzles and pick up on math skills.

This age of technology can be somewhat difficult as an older person, to understand and measure the significance of using media technology with toddlers. Studies have been somewhat contradictory, although the general consensus leans to better outcomes with children over three.

Nevertheless, when establishing goals for electronic media use, the AAP recommends no more than 2 hours per day of any combination of high quality screen time for children under two. Nevertheless, I prefer to believe as an old fashioned grandparent would, by reminding us that the best teacher is with a one to one mother child relationship. As the old saying goes, “What you say will speak to your child. What you do will scream to them”.

Perhaps one would do best to err on the side of moderation.



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1 Comment

Reply Alison
8:20 AM on September 11, 2015 
I agree, and after seeing the changes in children in the last 30 years in both elementary and early education programs in my area, I would not allow a child under two any screen time, including watching any TV or using other screens, myself, while young children are in the area. This first came from a pediatric nurse practitioner by whom I was employed as a nanny some years ago. I have since seen the results of both choices.