Throughout the pandemic we have spent way more time in front of screens than we normally do. Every passing day we get more immerse in a digital world. Your baby will be born and grow in a world connected by technology. But what impact will that have on them? What benefits and risks would that represent to their development? What can you do to make your baby benefit from this ultra-connected world?
You should never blame yourself for not having actives offscreen 24/7 for your baby. Technology is a part of your life, and therefore, it will inevitably be a part of theirs. The key is balance. Your baby can and will have contact with technology, what you need to keep in mind is that it should represent only a little tiny bit of their time. Ask yourself what their screen time is replacing. Is it for you to get some well-deserved rest or to prepare dinner? Or is it replacing important social interaction?
Especially before the age of two, a baby’s brain is going through an important phase of growth and development. They need to interact with the world and with other people to properly develop social, motor, emotional and linguistic skills. Time offscreen is important for your baby, therefore, for babies under 18 months, reduce the technology use to video chatting as much as you can. This can be a nice way for your baby to have contact with people you are not able to see in person. From 18 to 24 months, they can co-watch kids’ programs.
Why is time off screen so important?
Your baby needs to explore the world, in order to properly absorb the information around them but also for their mental development. The fast-paced reality of technology may have an impact on your baby now and in the future. By being exposed to so many stimuli and being only a click away from what they want, your baby may have trouble controlling their impulses and focusing. Also, during this phase your baby’s main way of communicating is non-verbal. By limiting or taking human interaction away from them, they may have a harder time developing a sense of empathy, since they won’t properly learn how to read facial expressions.
There is so much you can do with your baby that does not require a phone, a computer, or a television. Your options are literally around you. Some activities they may enjoy, include: Reading them a story Painting with them Coloring with them Going for a walk Playing with puppets
Taking advantage of technology
From ordering food with just a click to talking face-to-face with someone in the other side of the world, there are many advantages in technology you as an adult has certainly benefited from. During the first two years, your baby needs to limit their usage of technology as much as possible. However, there is no problem in introducing it to them, slowly. Video chatting is a way for them to stay in touch with loved ones who live far away, and there is educational value in many kids’ shows. But most importantly, by introducing electronic devices alongside varied off-screen activities, it will help your child create a healthy relationship with technology.
References: - Babies need humans, not screens. UNICEF Parenting. https://www.unicef.org/parenting/child-development/babies-screen-time - Pinola, M. How and When to Limit Kids’ Tech Use. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/guides/smarterliving/family-technology