"When my kids get too clingy, I give them a smartphone to keep them busy." Now that's a statement which some of us here probably can relate to. Yes, gadgets put information and entertainment right at our fingertips. And with the conveniences they offer, it's easy for us to think that those tiny computers could be helpful when it comes to parenting.
It's especially true when we're talking about toddlers. We want them to be smarter every day, and we read for them to help them learn, comfort them, and help them sleep. And they love it. But sometimes we just can't afford to bring their favorite books or add yet another bulk to our limited and precious real estate. So we resort to the digital domain.
However, a study published in the journal Pediatrics concludes that, when reading to a toddler, print books are better than electronic ones. Now, many parents may already do this. But still, when smartphones and tablets are increasingly embedded in our daily lives, it's worth reminding that physical books are still the way to nurture our future generations.
This study is a follow-up to a previous research, which revealed that reading print books results in more interactive communication between parents and preschoolers than reading with an electronic device. Through this latest inquiry, now it is also proven that parents and toddlers verbalize and collaborate more when reading prints.
This finding is significant because the basis of all the strongest emotional bonds between parents and children is communication. It makes children feel the importance of the presence of their parents. It doesn't matter whether the child understands what the parent is talking about; the voice alone can be captured as a form of attention.
Yes, those gizmos are helpful when you use it wisely, and we will not argue that. But don't forget about the tried and true good old way of reading books. Not only are print books better than their electronic counterpart, but extended usage of gadgets can also bring a variety of adverse effects on children.
If you introduce electronic devices to your children at a stage this early, chances are they becoming gadgets-dependent as they grow up. And as we implied at the beginning, parents today tend to give their gadgets just to keep their children busy as they go about their daily lives. Now that's what you call a bad combination.
As you might've already suspected, excessive screen time will increase the risk of eye disorders such as myopia. On top of that, it will also result in a lack of focus, sleep, and physical movement. And then there are the effects on mental health. In some cases, children can experience changes in behavior, grow up too fast, and even suffer from depression. In other cases, they can have unstable emotions, such as irritability, loss of emotional control, and mood dependence. You can check this article to get a more comprehensive explanation on this issue.
Phew! Quite a picture we're painting here. But again, we're not against gadgets. It's just, do you remember that we still have those things that are made out of paper? Books? Print books? Nevertheless, the most important thing to remember is to build a close emotional connection with your children and develop their characters by taking part in their lives: read to them, spend time with them, and be there. Children are our future, so let's do the best we can for them today for our better tomorrow!