Screens & the Early Years

Did You Know?

  • 74 % of children under age two have watched television.
  • 59 % of children under age two watch television for an average of 2 hours per day.
  • 30 % of children aged zero to three years old have a television in their bedroom.
  • 39 % of children between the ages of 0 and 4 live in households where the television is always on or is on most of the time, even if no one is watching.
  • 70% of American children under the age of four have used a computer.

What Young Children Need

The fundamental nature of childhood is changing for children growing up in a media-saturated world

- Barbara Coloroso Family Outside

Young children - infants, toddlers, pre-schoolers – need to develop strong, loving relationships with their parents; they need to develop muscles to support their bodies and movement; they need interaction with other children and adults to build language and social skills; and they need play to develop imagination and creativity.

Children learn best interacting with people they know – parents, teachers, friends and family – and exploring the world around them using all of their senses. They require hands-on problem solving activities to support cognitive development.

Why Screen Time Matters

Baby on Laptop

BABIES need an environment that is responsive. They need to emotionally bond with caregivers who smile, talk, sing and engage actively with them. They need to be talked to, played with, and responded to.

  • TV does not respond to baby’s needs and does little or nothing to develop language.
  • Background TV interrupts play, distracts adults, and may reduce the quality of the interaction between parent and infant.
  • Infants are not developmentally ready to benefit from even the best of TV/Video. Most content is nearly meaningless for babies under a year, and shows for children under 2 years old have yet to demonstrate any educational or developmental benefit.

TODDLERS(1-3) Toddlers best develop language and social and thinking skills interacting with family and friends and by exploring the world around them. Talking to children, especially kids under 5 years, is crucial for brain development.

toddler

  • TV takes time away from human contact, and exploring the child’s surroundings!
  • Children who sit in front of a screen are missing out on opportunities for social play and interaction.
  • Studies show the more TV children watch, the lower their reading scores, and the less well socialized they are in 1st grade.
  • Screen habits start early. A steady diet of screen media may lead children to expect to be entertained, instantly gratified, and to passively absorb someone else’s thoughts and ideas.

PRE-SCHOOLERS(3-5) Preschool children are at a critical stage in the development of language, creativity, and imagination. Children learn best by doing and being active.

boys watching tv

  • TV/Video shows entertain! They provide content and images, but do not encourage children to discover, participate, and imagine through exploration.
  • Time watching a screen could be much better spent reading, talking, and playing.
  • Research shows that TV viewing before bed interferes with children’s sleep.
  • Studies show that kids who watch too much TV are not only more likely to struggle in school, but are more likely to be overweight or obese, and to spend less time interacting with their friends and family.

What Can Be Done

BABIES

Home

baby with remote

  • Limit screen time: Ideally: The American Academy of Pediatrics says the risks of viewing out weigh the benefits, and recommends that babies under 2 years do not watch any TV at all. Reality: Mums and dads sometimes need a break to get things done or to relax.
  • If you do use TV to ‘entertain’ your baby, choose slow paced programs with simple language. (Blue’s Clues, Clifford)
  • Co-view: talk, point, play, sing, as you watch shows with your baby.
  • Use programs for ideas on how to talk, play, read, and sing with your baby.
  • Do not allow a TV in their bedroom.
  • Listen to music as a relaxing alternative.

Community

dad holding baby For more information, ideas, activities, and support check out:

  • StrongStart BC - Early Learning Centre (837-1273)
  • Revelstoke Early Childhood Development Coordinator (837-6669)
  • Mother Goose - (837-6669)
  • Baby Talk - (814-2244)
  • OK Library “Tiny Tickle Time” - (837-5095)
  • Child Care Society-Toy Lending Library (837-6669)
  • Download Brochure “Screens and the Early Years”
  • Children’s Services Directory

TODDLERS

Home

toddler alphabet

  • Limit screen time: Limit total screen time to 1 hour of quality educational viewing each day (Canadian Pediatric Society).
  • Choose programs in which characters are talking directly to your child, repeating key words, and there are clear links between spoken words and what is happening on screen. (Dora the Explorer, Blues Clues)
  • Choose programs where characters treat each other with care and respect and solve problems by talking and helping each other. (Sesame Street)
  • Minimize background TV when your child is playing as it can interfere with play.
  • Do not allow a TV in their bedroom.
  • Avoid using the TV as a babysitter.
  • Provide opportunities for play with other toddlers, and for practising their growing language skills with trusted adults.

Community

women playing with kids For more information, ideas, activities, and support check out:

PRE-SCHOOLERS

Home

girl leans on books

  • Limit screen time: Limit total screen time to 1 hour of quality educational viewing each day (Canadian Pediatric Society).
  • Educational shows are best for preschoolers when they do watch TV. Moderate amounts of educational television or software can help build vocabulary, number, or letter skills. (Dragon Tales, Arthur)
  • Avoid violent media, including cartoons and other slapstick violence. Preschoolers will imitate what they see on TV.
  • Choose shows that encourage imaginary play and role playing, and use ideas from the TV show to play with your child.
  • Read with your child. Have books in the home. Visit the library often.

Community

girls reading For more information, ideas, activities, and support check out:

  • StrongStart BC - Early Learning Centre (837-1273)
  • Revelstoke Early Childhood Development Coordinator (837-6669)
  • Mother Goose - (837-6669)
  • OK Library “Story Time” - (837-5095)
  • Child Care Society-Toy Lending Library (837-6669)
  • Speech and Language Clinic (837-4285)
  • ECD Consultant - Community Connections (837-2920)
  • Download Brochure “Screens and the Early Years” & “Tots & Screens”
  • Children’s Services Directory

Links