Newswise — NEW YORK (December 11, 2012) – 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.
• Encourage group play - Interacting as part of a group is important for the development of social and interpersonal skills. Children should be encouraged to interact with peers rather than spending the majority of time engrossed in a solo activity.
• Encourage a mix of activities - Overstimulation from TV, iPads and computer games can lead to the brain becoming accustomed to a high level of stimulus, making traditional activities, like book reading, boring. Parents should encourage kids to spend time doing other activities as well; consider having a trade-off – 30 minutes of TV = 30 minutes of outdoor play.
“We’ve been seeing an increase in screen time for many years,” Dr. Briggs said. “And with more devices available than ever, parents should try to consider them as a treat - just like dessert.”
Dr. Briggs is an expert in the early social and emotional development of infants and toddlers, parent-child relationships and preventive pediatric mental health care. She is director of the Healthy Steps program at The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, which helps to ensure parents and their babies get started on the right track, assisting parents in addressing their babies’ development and behavioral needs. Dr. Briggs has written numerous articles published in peer-reviewed journals, as well as book chapters, and is frequently quoted in popular publications as an expert in early childhood mental health and development.
About Montefiore Medical Center
As the University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore is a premier academic medical center nationally renowned for its clinical excellence, scientific discovery and commitment to its community. Recognized among the top hospitals nationally and regionally by U.S. News & World Report, Montefiore provides compassionate, patient- and family-centered care and educates the healthcare professionals of tomorrow. The Children's Hospital at Montefiore is consistently named in U.S. News' "America's Best Children's Hospitals," and is second among those in the New York metro area. With four hospitals, 1,491 beds and 90,000 annual admissions, Montefiore is an integrated health system seamlessly linked by advanced technology. State-of-the-art primary and specialty care is provided through a network of more than 130 locations across the region, including the largest school health program in the nation and a home health program. Montefiore's partnership with Einstein advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the pace at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. The medical center derives its inspiration for excellence from its patients and community, and continues to be on the frontlines of developing innovative approaches to care. For more information please visit www.montefiore.org and www.montekids.org. Follow us on Twitter; like us on Facebook; view us on YouTube