In an era when iPads are beating out Legos for the top spot on kids' Christmas wish lists, parents need to be mindful that moderation is the key in this digital age, according to Montefiore Medical Center child psychologist Rahil Briggs, Psy.D.
"While electronic devices and gadgets can be educational and often provide parents time to tackle their to-do lists, we're learning that too much screen time can impact brain and language development in children," said Dr. Briggs, director of the Healthy Steps program at The Children's Hospital at Montefiore. "Technology and games may play important roles in our lives, but we can't forget the value of personal interaction and healthy lifestyles."
Dr. Briggs, who is an expert in early child development, shares some tips for parents whose children might be getting what they wished for this holiday season:
• Limit use of electronics - The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for children under two years old and no more than two hours per day for children two and above.
• Strike a balance - Research has shown that infant media exposure has tripled in the last two decades. Parents should encourage kids to switch between screen time and traditional activities such as puzzles and coloring books, which help to develop fine motor and problem solving skills.
• Parental interaction is key - Kids who spend more time watching TV or playing with a tablet device tend to receive less attention from their parents, and as a result, the child's language development is negatively impacted; they learn fewer words by certain milestones. Parents should make time each day to talk with your child, read with your child and play with your child.