Baby and gadgets – the sight you get to see everywhere. An infant is more familiar with smartphones, tablets, than rattles. A toddler knows how to hold a smartphone before he even starts walking. Now, with hundreds of the gizmos available in the market –
Parents feel – whats the harm in having a gadget do some of the parenting works, especially after a long day.
I was so surprised to see, a parent in the restaurant playing nursery rhyme over a smartphone to make 3-month-old drink milk.
We as a parent feel that these gizmos which have been programmed as – to track baby movements, interact with kids, make baby sleep, and much more – keeps baby entertained and are good for his/her growth. But are they as helpful as we consider them to be? Have you considered analyzing the real effects of gadgets on the baby?
Dr Nirmala Karuppiah, from the National Institute of Education’s (NIE), Early Childhood and Special Education Academic Group, in her latest study found that – “65% of the surveyed children started playing with electronic devices before they even turned 3”. She has pointed out the severe harmful effects of gadgets on babies in her study.
Effects of Gadgets on Baby’s Development
1. Impact Parent-Child Bonding
Gizmos make good babysitters, however, they take away the quality bonding time between parents and babies. The time where a parent and baby sit together to play, and baby learns and imitates by looking at the parents, is replaced with electronic toys. Babies learn best through two-way communication. Electronic toys undoubtedly entertain babies, but they also delay their speech and language learning
2. Brain Development
Research has shown that overexposure to gadgets or electric toys may have negative impacts on baby’s brain development – such as cognitive delays, impaired learning, attention deficit, ability to self-regulation.
3. Physical Development & Social Relations
As kids are glued to tv screens, smartphones and tablets – the lack of physical activities not only impact the physical development, but also the skill of forming social relations. It is imperative for kids to indulge in physical activities than to spend hours and hours on gadgets.
4. Eyesight and Radiance Exposure
Prolonged exposure to radiations emitting from screens impact not only the eyesight of toddlers but may also lead to serious health issues. As per World Health Organization Report – cellphones and other wireless devices are possibly carcinogenic to humans and are considered a category 2B risk for health due to the radiation emission.
Addiction to technology and gadgets is the biggest concern these days. Dr. Andrew Doan, the Head of Addiction Research for the Pentagon and the U.S. Navy calls – “Video games and screen technologies as digital drugs.” Exposure to gadgets makes babies addicted and hampers their emotional, physical and mental growth.
How to Protect Baby from Harmful Effects of Gadgets
1. Encourage Baby to Play Outdoors
Gadgets develop sedentary habits, which are harmful to baby’s development. Encourage baby to indulge in outdoor games and interact with other kids. Outdoor activities are not only important for physical development but also for the metabolism system of the body. Playing games and interaction with other kids also helps baby’s speech & language learning skills, and the ability to socialize. (It has been noted that kids who are more into gadgets are not comfortable socially)
2. PLay Non-Electronic Games
Spend quality time with the baby and encourage them to play non-electronic games such as – building blocks car, rock-a-stack, learning with wooden blocks, hammer bank, activity ball, stack blocks, coloring book, wooden dolls house , build castle with blocks
3. Read Storybooks
Reading storybooks to babies helps to develop memory, vocabulary and listening skills. Storybooks also help to introduce colors, shapes, letters, and numbers to babies in a fun way. There are a number of storybooks available in the market. My Vivaan loves – The Jungle Book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Goodnight Moon, Baby Touch, Little Blue Truck’s Springtime, Oh, Baby, the Places You’ll Go!
4. Limit Screen Time
Limit the time your baby spends in front of a TV screen, smartphone, and tablets. Rather than spending the full day on gadgets, limit their time to not more than 2-3 hours. Also, it’s important to keep a watch on what the baby is watching, and how it is impacting his behavior.
Here are some of the toys and books that my baby loves-