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Junior Article 2023

Toddlers vs Tablets

Bajan Parents: “My child has to read books and spend time outside playing, I am not getting them a tablets.”

Also Bajan Parents: “Tablets are a godsend.”

If you are a parent navigating the terrible twos you’ll probably be familiar with the magical calming qualities of Coco Melon or Ms Rachel. There is no doubt that the wonderful distraction a tablet brings can help busy parents get a little respite, finish necessary chores or just take a much needed breather. But with the rise of tablets, there are several reports of potential dangers surrounding their overuse - so how do parents find a balance? We’ve got three tips to help you develop healthy practices surrounding your toddler’s tablet time.


Tablets can be teachers

While Buggs and Daffy (raise your hand if you know what we’re talking about) were staples back in the 80’s for childhood viewing, today’s shows and cartoons have many more educational options. Choose shows and videos that help children to learn while distracting them so mum or dad can get a few minutes reprieve. Consider entertainment that encourages reading or read along videos and when you can, try to co-watch with your toddler, explaining what’s going on in the show and encouraging them to talk about what they are seeing. The benefit of keeping your child gainfully entertained is also a draw back because it means less time spent engaging with parents, which is important for speech and language development. Finding shows that support this as well as making time to watch with your toddler are great ways to find a balance.


But there can be too much of a good thing

While handing your toddler a tablet may seem like the magic wand to regaining precious time, The American Academy of Paediatrics recommend limiting screen time to an hour a day for children aged 2 to 5. Like anything, moderation is key. Consider breaking up an hour of screen time into 15-minute slots, or schedule screen time to when its most needed. Do you have a 30 minute video call at home, or are you in desperate need of a 10-minute breather? Allow your toddlers tablet time to be as effective as possible based on how your day is set up.


Accept that your toddler will most likely throw it

Toddlers and tantrums go hand in hand, and while a tablet is a great tool to distract and calm your child from a screaming spiral, chances are it’s not going to work 100% of the time. And your tiny tot, can easily go from throwing a tantrum to throwing their tablet. Good thing manufacturers plan for the inevitable. While we are not advocating that you let your 3-year old toss the tablet around, we do recommend trying a sturdy model or investing in a heavy duty “toddler-proof” case.


Remember that while tablets are a great tool, they are only one solution in the bid to educate and entertain your child. As your little one gets older, the steps you take now to develop healthy digital practices will benefit them in the long run. Consider scheduled screen times (not before bed), be sure to create opportunities for self-directed play and make time for your little one to explore the world around them. Finding the balance may be tricky at times, but you’ve got this!



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