Should 2-year-olds be using tablets?

Should 2-year-olds be using tablets?

Is keeping your young child off of electronic devices a healthy habit or a handicap for the future? Many parents wonder where to draw the line when it comes to allowing their young children use of tablets and other touch screen devices.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) maintains their policy statement that screen media exposure should be discouraged in children under the age of two; however, some pediatricians are challenging this recommendation. Dr. Dmitri Christakis and Dr. Donald Shifrin of the AAP Council on Communication and Media will debate the topic of the use of touchscreens by young children at this week’s national AAP conference.

According to an article published in 2011 by the AAP, “obesity, sleep issues, aggressive behaviors and attention issues in pre-school and school-aged children may result from media use.” The same article says that watching television before bed can lead to irregular sleep schedules for children under three.

AAP also states that there is “no supporting educational or development benefits for media use by children younger than 2 years.”

The number of children under two who have used a mobile jumped from 10 percent in 2011 to 38 percent in 2013, according to a study published by Common Sense Media. While many apps are designed to teach toddlers, there are still concerns over the longer term effects of media use in all children.

“The use of educational apps on touch devices is appropriate in limited amounts,” says Dr. Andrea Kane, pediatrician, Advocate Medical Group in Bloomington, Illinois. “Education on devices does not replace parent interaction for teaching, though.”

“The most dangerous thing we can do for youngsters nowadays is to deny them access to the digital world,” Dr. Shifrin said in a news release. “But the second most dangerous thing is to give them unlimited access.”

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  1. Sonja Vojcic

    I think that moderation is key.

  2. I know it makes them think everything is a touchscreen… I remember when we first bought a flatscreen tv and our two-year-old thought it was a touchscreen. We had fingerprints on the screen for weeks.

  3. The fact that a trade group of physicians is even debating this topic speaks not only to special interest overreach; but simply too much time on their hands. A “policy statement?” Good grief.

  4. Katie Renz

    Sometimes I think little kids know more about technology than me!

  5. Lisa Parro

    Parents and caregivers need to monitor kids no matter what they’re playing with – whether at the park or on a tablet – to ensure safety.

About the Author

Lynn Hutley
Lynn Hutley

Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.