How much should I let my toddler play on a tablet?
It’s a challenging dilemma for parents these days. The very nature of tablet technology is different compared to TV or video games because it appeals to the curious nature of toddlers and preschoolers much more than any other medium. A toddler can touch the letter A, for example, and an apple falls from a tree with sounds and motion. It’s a unique one-on-one interaction that they can initiate by themselves.
When you evaluate your toddler’s usage on the tablet, follow these simple strategies:
1. Why is your child using the tablet?
Are you sitting down with your child to help him learn his shapes? Or do you simply need him to be distracted for a bit while you make dinner? (Full disclosure – I’ve done scenario two more than I probably should.)
If you are helping her learn, then 15 – 30 minutes is fine. Watch for signs that she is becoming distracted such as pushing the home button or asking you to finish the app for her. If she is doing these actions, it is time to do a new activity with your toddler.
When my toddler interacts with the tablet by himself, I put a time limit on it – usually no more than 20 minutes. That gives him enough time to complete a couple of age appropriate apps on his own and I can get dinner on the table. Any more than 20 minutes and I find it becomes difficult for him to disengage from the tablet.
2. Think about your child’s personality.
Some toddlers are more drawn to tablet technology and respond better to it. I recently watched a little girl play on a tablet. She wouldn’t complete more than two activities within an age appropriate app. At this stage, toddlers and preschoolers need to focus on completing tasks and follow through. If your toddler seems to be moving from one app to another without attempting to finish what they have completed, take a break. The break can be as long as you want – a day or a week, depending on what you determine is best for your child.
3. Timing is everything.
When your toddler interacts with your table take into consideration their schedule and think about the time of day. Like adults, some preschoolers do better in the morning than in the afternoon and vice versa. If you know they are tired in the afternoon reduce their tablet time. You want the tablet experience to be a positive one and not a frustrating experience. Again, look for signs that your toddler might be getting bored or tired of interacting on the tablet.
Of course, these are only guidelines and ultimately as a parent you’ll decide what is best for your toddler; however I’ve used these guidelines and have found them helpful.
I would love to know how much tablet time you give your toddler! Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on Twitter @weebootMom.