Technology devices & children: how young is too young?

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

It’s a topic that is up for heated debate these days: are kids being exposed to too much technology at a young age? Is it detrimental or helpful to their developing minds?  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids ages 0 to 2 have zero screen time. Kids ages 3 to 5 should only watch one hour a day and those ages 6 to 18 should have a maximum of 2 hours a day.  But, with iPhones, Kindles, iPads, laptops, and a number of other smartphone devices, technology is literally at our youth’s fingertips at all hours of the day.

Limiting screen time is becoming harder and harder, simply because they are surrounded by it wherever they go. A new article published by Cris Rowan at The Huffington Post discusses 10 reasons why kids under 12 should not be allowed access to handheld devices. Children that are hooked to technology at a young age have greater risk for obesity, delayed development, mental illness, and stunted brain growth, just to name a few. (1)

In the first two years of life, a baby’s brain grows rapidly and is largely developed by the environment around it. If all of their stimulation comes from a screen, research shows that the brain functions less, there is greater risk for cognitive delays and impaired learning, and they have less ability to self-soothe.  In addition, when you’re stuck in front of a screen, you’re likely sitting still, zoning out. This lack of movement can lead to developmental delays. This lack of movement also creates a higher risk of children developing poor eating and exercise habits. Kids simply get used to not getting up and moving as much if their brain is continually being stimulated by a screen.
Technology and video game addiction is very real and can be very harmful for developing young minds. 

Rowan, Cris. “10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12.” Huffington Post Blog. March 9, 2014. Accessed March 12, 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cris-rowan/10-reasons-why-handheld-devices-should-be-banned_b_4899218.html

By Brooke Strickland and Andrew Doan MD PhD