An ABC News article today caught my attention: Apps Not Effective Tool for Teaching Babies. A group, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, has filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) contending that companies violate truth-in-advertising laws when they claim their digital products “teach” skills to babies.
Fisher-Price, one of the companies targeted by the group, issued a statement: “Grounded in eighty years of research and childhood development observations, we have appropriately extended these well-researched play patterns into the digital space.”
After reading the article and some others, research shows that screen time (watching television, playing video games, using apps, …) may effect language development and contribute to weight gain in children. Here’s some guidelines from Pediatricians:
The first two years of your child’s life are especially important in the growth and development of her brain. During this time, children need positive interaction with other children and adults. This is especially true at younger ages, when learning to talk and play with others is so important.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages TV and other media use by children younger than 2 years and encourages interactive play.
For older children, total entertainment screen time should be limited to less than 1 to 2 hours per day of educational, nonviolent programs, which should be supervised by parents or other responsible adults in the home. (From an American Academy of Pediatrics website, HealthyChildren.org.)
The group, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, is also concerned that apps use collected data to market to the children. According to their website:
The rise of… portable screen technologies allows marketers unprecedented direct access to children. At the same time, key policies and agencies created to protect kids from harmful marketing have been weakened… Childhood obesity, eating disorders, youth violence, sexualization, family stress, underage alcohol and tobacco use, rampant materialism, and the erosion of creative play are all exacerbated by advertising and marketing.
Has digital media been helpful to your child? Is it educational or only entertaining? Have you been aware of marketing directed to your kids? What are you doing to limit “screen time” in your home?
- Thoughts on parenting in the digital age and the impact of electronics on children from Parade magazine.
- This is an older article, but it shows the trend of using old iPhones and of buying new iPads as children’s toys.
- The Kindle Free Time app is available on newer Kindle Fires to limit screen time and can be set with specific profiles for each child.
- Image source: Nevit Dilman