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Screen Time Rules Apply to All Devices, Apps

Father and baby with cellphone

A recent article in the Washington Post states that while the American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that children under age two should not have any screen time, it’s unknown if there are benefits to be gained from allowing children to use educational apps.

Europe generally has the same age requirement that America does.

In Germany, some child psychologists advise that screen use should be avoided until age 6, in Finland and other Scandinavian countries there is no consensus, in Spain and Poland, practitioners typically refer back to the AAP guidance of 2.

They all pointed out that lumping together watching television, essentially a passive activity, with interactive and participatory use of smartphones, tablets, video game consoles, Leapsters (educational toys combining video game and physical activity) seems absurd. It seems that, somewhat ironically, despite the global market for such technology, we are far from reaching a global consensus on what is and isn’t appropriate screen use at different ages.

Post contributor Natalia Kucirkova says that too few studies have been done that equivocally state whether or not touching a screen can replace or augment learning from touching items in a child’s everyday life. Children sometimes have a difficult time understanding what is real and what is not. Additionally, it’s not known whether or not looking at a screen for any length of time damages kid’s eyes. Possibly when future studies accumulate, parents will have a better idea of what screen time limits to set. For the time being, understanding the individual child may help.

Child psychologists also know that interactive apps can interfere with children’s story comprehension, mostly because the parents reading the book to their child tend to focus more on the interactive elements than on the story, something that wouldn’t happen with a printed book.

No matter how accurate and personalized language-teaching software might be, it can never deliver the range and quality of linguistic cues of a human speaker. The ability to try mimicking and mirroring facial expressions, gestures, tones of voice and body language is crucial for early language development.

Read the full story.

Corrie Kerr, Education World Editor

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