Handheld devices – yes or no?

I came across a blog post today by Hipmombrarian about 10 reasons why she gives her children handheld devices.  As an educator who can see the potential of handheld devices for children, I agree completely with her reasoning.  

Having recently become a mother myself, it’s now a decision I have to make outside the classroom.  Do I allow my son to have ‘screen time’ or not?  And what sort of activities should I choose?  As I previously mentioned on a post about how children spend their screen time, both the American Academy of Pediatrics (2010) and the CSIRO (2013) recommend that for health reasons, children should spend less than 2 hours per day in front of a screen.  

Staying at home with my four-month old, I now have to leave the television off all day, otherwise he will spend all his time staring at it to the exclusion of all else.  Having said that, I look forward to a time when he is old enough to enjoy programs like Sesame Street and Play School.  We already have an app on my iPad which features black and white moving pictures and classical music.  My son is really too little to interact with it, but it is a good distraction when we are trying to give him ‘tummy time’, which he hates.

I agree with Hipmombrarain that when used the right way, handheld devices can be wonderful for children.  It’s when parents use them as the only form of entertainment (in the same way the television is also used as a ‘babysitter’) that problems arise.

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