My husband and I have different views on how often to let our three-year-old daughter play with our smartphones and our tablet at home. We have downloaded a few apps on our phones and we regularly let her draw and watch videos on our iPad instead of watching television. My husband doesn’t see any harm in letting her play with these devices and, in fact, thinks that at least she’s interacting with them instead of zoning out in front of the TV. I can see that they’re convenient, especially on long journeys, but I’m also concerned that they could cause attention problems or delay her social skills down the road. What do you think?
The major reasons why screen time is harmful to children is that it detracts from social interaction and discourages activity. Interactive games are better than TV but they are not social nor are they active. If your daughter has many social opportunities, is active and engaged, there is likely no harm in her using a tablet for a limited amount of time. You and her dad can decide together how much is OK each day.
The Canadian Pediatric Society has issued some helpful guidance for parents on this subject.
The other thing you can do is become engaged with her about what she is doing on the iPad. Monitor what she is doing and restrict violent games. Discuss the games she is playing. It is never to early to teach her how to think critically about TV and computer games. What values are they promoting? What is she learning? Make it a conversation. I am sure you will learn a lot about how she is thinking.