In first two years of life, when a child sees, feels, tastes, smells, and hears, i.e. uses one of the senses, a neural (brain cell) connection is made in the child’s brain. In simple words, a child’s brain grows.
This might be hard to believe, but most of the emotional and social skills you have now were learned when you were in your early years. As early as 2–3 years. Children’s social and emotional interactions at this very age help them to:
- be self-confident
- have high self-esteem
- have positive social skills
- develop a sense of self
- have successful adult relationships
Screentime Recommendations 📴
Up until 18 months of age, it is advised to avoid the use of screen media.
From 18 to 24 months of age, if you wish to introduce the child to the digital world then please make sure that you choose high-quality educational videos and watch them with the child. Not alone.
First, you get to supervise the content.
Second and most importantly, you help the child learn what they are seeing by applying the knowledge in the real world. For which you need to know what they are watching.
Screen time replaces hands-on play activities that a child’s brain require at this age. At this age, the child is learning by exploring the world.
This is a wow age. They learn how to walk and feel excited to discover their environment. The shining light, three round holes of an electric socket, tapping tv to see what it does. The world becomes a wonderland for them.
While they are all fascinated by the wow-ness of this world, they need to know the practical use of it. For example, a cat seen in a book or a tv is the same animal child saw at neighbour’s house.
Research says real-life interactions with adults are much more useful than watching the video for learning of new words. Research also tells us that excessive screen time is children may cause disturbed sleep, weight issues, and social/emotional problems.
Many parents believe that spending time on screen helps their child pick up new words. It enhances their vocabulary.
Now, starting at 18 months of age, the child can learn new words from these educational videos, given that an adult sees that video with the child and re-teaches that word in another situation in the context of a child’s real world.
Remember, the crux of learning is its application.
When I say learning, please don't confuse it with academic learning. It is life skills that the child is learning at this age.
If not screen, then what do we replace it with? ↩
Read! Start co-reading and discussing with the child at a very early stage.
Play! Use this opportunity to engage with the child creatively.
Role model! The children do what they see, not what they are told. Adults serve as role models for children.
Some mindless things adults do that they shouldn’t ⚠️
Do not use or look distracted by the personal use of the screen while actively spending time with the child.
Be mindful of what you are watching in the child’s presence.
News channels might appear harmless to adults, but unknowingly, we can expose the child to inappropriate language, frightening images. This may make the child fearful, emotionally upset, pick up bad words or hitting behaviour.
Every child has a right to privacy in real as well as the digital world.
If you are not an immediate family member, never post pictures and videos of the child without parent/guardian permission.
- During the first two years of life, the child learns best by exploration and social interaction with trusted adults.
- Screen time does not promote brain development the way real-life experience does.
- Put it this way, we replace the 3D experience of the real-world with 2D experience of the tech world. Isn’t it too dull eh?