By Claire Porter
What is the right time to let Kids play with a Tablet or Smartphone?
The introduction of smartphones and tablets, like the Apple iPhone and iPad, has really taken the world by storm. All you need do is step on board a subway train or a bus to see countless people staring at these screens, reading emails, playing games and generally digesting content. They’re an incredibly useful invention, and hundreds of thousands of applications are available to help you do almost anything. There are even apps like ours that will allow you to decode your baby’s language. But this new surge in ownership has opened the door for younger and younger children to get their hands on these smart devices – and we all know how much they love them – but it raises an important question. Just when is the ‘right’ time to allow your child to play with smart devices? Let’s find out more.
Why children are attracted to gadgets and gizmos
Almost all parents have been there: your young child or baby is kicking up a fuss and you simply don’t know what you can do to help! It’s a frustrating situation that was once solved with such simple measures as shaking a set of keys in front of them or giving them a tickle. And whilst these solutions can sometimes be effective, many have found that dangling a smartphone in front of them can work even better. Because of this, many children have begun to see devices like the iPhone and iPad as a forbidden source of excitement and fun. You may even have seen some children throwing a tantrum when not being allowed to use their parents’ iPad – it’s not unheard of by any stretch of the imagination. The problem with children – particularly those under two – actually using smartphones and tablets as devices for fun and learning is that they offer a rather limited environment. In fact, psychologists have written about this very phenomenon and concluded that ‘There is no such thing as screen time that is good for children under 2’.
The ubiquitous nature of iDevices
One of the problems that parents face is that these devices are quite literally everywhere. Even walking to the store or going to the mall, kids will be confronted with other people glued to their phones and tablets. This will increase their desire to have one of their own, or at least get some time with a shared unit. More and more apps are also being added to the App Stores everyday – an increase in apps means an increase in ownership and an increase in ownership can lead to grabbing and snatching from your possessive little one. These are delicate units which can be easily damaged – and are not easily or cheaply replaced.
A compromise for everyone
Perhaps the key to allowing children to use these devices is moderation. In that, we mean that a child should be allowed to use these items in a supervised environment, and perhaps only use certain apps. In this way, an iPhone or iPad could actually be used as an educational tool to teach even very young children things like spatial awareness, or introduce them to colors and numbers. Provided these kids do not abuse these devices and ‘waste’ their time with them, tablets and other touch devices can actually be a beneficial tool in their upbringing. Likewise, parents can use apps such as the Dunstan Baby app to improve the connection with their child via the use of their smart device. There are also a number of ‘baby proof’ tablets on the market, as well as those that are designed specifically for children, like the Leapfrog range of products. This can be a good way to sate a child’s want of a smart device without handing over a piece of tech worth nearly $1000 in some cases! As always, we would encourage parents to make an informed decision about these matters. With the right amount of thought and consideration put in, there is always a compromise that can be reached to keep a smile on everyone’s face.
Don’t forget – the future is looking very tablet-shaped, so there’s no reason to hide these things from your child, simply to use them responsibly and in moderation, like any ‘good’ thing!
If you want to be able to tune in to your baby and hear the Dunstan-words they say to communicate their needs, you need to be able to listen to what sounds your baby makes before they start crying. To be able to do this, you need to be close to your baby. Wearing your baby is great for this. Apart from being able to respond to their needs quickly and easily by hearing and seeing what they need, it comes with lots of added benefits.
Wearing your baby promotes bonding, for both mum and baby and increased touch can help keep post partum depression at bay for mums. Babywearing also reduces infant crying. That is not an opinion, it has been found through research that babies that are carried for at least three hours a day cry nearly half as much as babies that weren’t. And happy baby equals happy mum.
Babies thrive on touch. Kangaroo care is used for premature babies to help regulate their heartbeat and breathing. Premature babies that are held and touched gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who aren’t. That goes to show how important touch is to babies, it is in fact directly related to their health and wellbeing.
On top of that, slings are just so convenient. They make breastfeeding easier, not just because baby is close anyway, but it is great for discreet breastfeeding in public, taking away some of the nerves first time breastfeeding mums may have about it. I have no idea how mums of multiple children can do without. Slings saved my life when my second baby came along. I could get active with my toddler and have my baby close.
However, it’s not just the carrying that is important. It’s also the way they are carried. So make sure you invest in an ergonomical carrier for your baby that allows your baby to sit in a froglike position promoting optimal hip positioning, rather than a harness where their legs are straight.
There is a great variety of slings available to suit everyone’s needs. There are long pieces of cloth you can learn to tie, slings with rings, carriers with buckles and everything in between in all shapes, colours and designs you can dream of. How do you pick one? Look around for a local sling library and try before you buy!
An example of the type of slings we LOVE here at DBL include the ErgoBaby – You can buy them at www.bellaslittleones.com.au
Notes:Pelaez-Nogueras M, Field TM, Hossain Z, Pickens J. (1996). Depressed mothers’ touching increases infants’ positive affect and attention in still-face interactions. Child Development, 67, 1780-92. Hunziker UA, Garr RG. (1986) Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A random-ized controlled trial. Pediatrics 77:641-648 Current knowledge about skin-to-skin (kangaroo) care for pre-term infants”. J Perinatol. 1991 Sep;11(3):216-26. The Benefits of Babywearing, http://www.lalecheleague.org/nb/nbnovdec04p204.html, 30/09/2013 Healthy hips – busting some myths, http://sheffieldslingsurgery.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/healthy-hips-busting-some-myths/ http://ukslinglibraries.wordpress.com/find-a-sling-library-near-you/