Forget pretty dolls, talking plush animals and snazzy toy cars. Your baby’s new favourite plaything is your digital tablet.
Whether he’s playing a game, watching a cartoon, or trying some fun activity like drawing or colouring, it seems your little one just can’t get enough screen time.
And you know what happens when you shut down the device or take it away from him – it’s not a pretty sight.
Don’t let your baby’s meltdown guilt you into letting him have his way, though.
Most experts agree that screen time on any device is not good for young children, especially those under two years of age.
A child’s brain undergoes rapid development until he turns two, shares Dr Linda Ho, a specialist in paediatrics at Matilda International Hospital in Hong Kong.
During this crucial growth period, exposure to electronic equipment can interfere with the brain development process.
As children’s use of tablets and smartphones is a relatively new phenomenon, Dr Ho tells Young Parents that more studies still need to be done to show exactly how their use affects childhood brain development.
However, they have been generally shown to cause sleep disturbances, mood changes, social and behavioural issues, and attention problems when the child is older.
Most of these games are also very addictive, so kids spend a lot more time staring at their devices than you want them to.
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“The more time he spends using these, the greater the probability that he will develop myopia,” says Dr Lee Sao Bing, medical director at Shinagawa Eye Centre.
“One of the main causes of myopia is thought to be frequent ‘close work’ – visual activities performed at a close distance or within arm’s length.”
Now, try telling a one- or two-year-old to hold his device as far away as possible. He may listen to you initially but, before you know it, he’ll be back to holding the device in front of his face again.”
And the nearer the eye is to a device while focusing, the greater the risk of developing myopia.
“This means that playing smartphone games is worse than playing tablet games, which is worse than watching TV,” Dr Lee adds.
Related: My kids have no iPhone or iPad