Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated it's "screen time" policy for children under the age of two, recommending that screen time should be limited. This loosened their longstanding policy of total elimination of TV and other forms of vegging out, but not without a little grumbling. The AAP still declares screen time a mental waste, with their new policy simply acknowledging that total elimination is unrealistic.
But where do iPads fit into the picture?
The AAP did not make any recommendations on the iPhone, iPad and other touch-based devices because there is simply too little research to make a determination. This leaves parents using their own judgement, and perhaps makes toddlers of this generation guinea pigs for future generations.
I've always taken a more balanced approach to television. My daughter starts her day with an oatmeal mashup, some juice or a milk, a handful of Cheerios and about a half hour of cartoons before the television is turned off for the majority of the day.
But what about the iPad? My daughter has always been fascinated by it, but we've always limited her use to only a few minutes a time with adult supervision. However, my iPad 3 was slightly damaged when it came time to sell it and help pay for the iPad 4, so I decided to wrap an Otterbox Defender around it and give it to her as her own, personal iPad.
Of course, she doesn't get it all day. But for about a half hour, she can play with some of the toddler-sized apps I have loaded on it. My daughter is 20 months and at the age where words are fascinating to her, so I hope that pointing at letters, numbers and shapes on the screen and hearing them spoken will reinforce the learning process. She also loves books, and there are quite a few interactive books available in the iPad.
With no real research on the issue, it's not an easy decision. I know it must be better than watching cartoons because there is some interaction involved, but there is no substitute for personal interaction, so I still place limits on her iPad time.
How has the iPad been received in your family? What sort of limits have you placed on it? Leave a comment and let us know.