Can FaceTime help your children learn?
Facebook and other forms of social media can help families with long distance relatives keep up-to-date and follow how relatives’ kids are doing. Another way families often keep in touch is FaceTime or other video chat applications. But for a growing toddler, does putting them in front of the phone provide a quality interaction, or is it just more time with electronics?
A new study from Lafayette College revealed that learning actually did take place in kids between the ages of one and two who interacted with people over FaceTime. In fact, when talking to a person over video, the child was able to learn and mimic an actual social interaction, as opposed to when they watched a pre-recorded video where there was no real-time feedback.
“It is great to see that FaceTime can offer a way for families to stay connected,” says Dr. Keith Benziger, pediatrician at Advocate Dreyer in Aurora, Ill. “But, first and foremost, this shouldn’t be a substitute for in-person relationships. It does provide a nice way for a child to ‘meet’ his or her relatives and begin to become familiar with them.”
The purpose of the study was to see if the video interactions were more beneficial for a child and had a greater cognitive impact than just putting them in front of electronics. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages screen time for children under the age of two because kids who watch a lot of media have been found to have poorer language skills and often don’t take part in activities that can help with their development. However, this study shows that not all screen time is created equal.
“Even at a young age, human interaction is a large key to development,” says Dr. Benziger. “The overall goal is to limit screen time to 2 hours in a typical day. As hard as it may be, we need to limit the amount of time that children spend in front of electronics. This study does at least make it more encouraging to spend time talking with relatives and allowing the child some time with electronics.”
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