What to Consider Before Handing Your Child a Smartphone

When your child is acting up or breaking down, your instinct may be to hand them a smartphone. But how does that really affect the child? Dr. Adair provides some food for thought before handing your child a smartphone.

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[MUSIC] When you offer your child a smartphone in the checkout line or to pass five minutes or 20 minutes, you are giving them a very different tool for dealing with frustration and boredom, and being tired, and cranky, and hungry. The reason it works is it's utterly distracting. And fascinating and fun, but that's not the actual tool you want your child to have neurologically, psychologically, or frankly, in relationship to you. They all love to hear our cooing voices, oh, honey, I know this is hard, let's play a game, let's sing a song. The way we coo and talk to our children becomes the foundation of that inner voice inside them that learns how to wait at circle time at school, that learns how not to melt down when it's not your turn. All those social and emotional intelligence skills from 0 to two that are critical to life. We don't know the long term impact of giving children smartphones to play with 0 to two. And until we know more, we need to pay attention to the signs that the preschool teachers and some of the early research is telling us. Children who play with tablets and tech a lot are not as good at staying calm. They're not as good at listening to a story being read to them, which is how you learned vocabulary. And they're not as good at dealing with frustration or as patient. So, although so many parents said to me, I don't know how you change the diaper without a smartphone. We did. And that was easier, cuz we didn't have to make these hard choices that you have to make. [MUSIC]

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