Our babies are born into a world of television, computers, and cell phones. We know that their brains are wired in their first years and they learn through our movement, our speech and facial expressions. Babies are born with instincts to survive and develop intellectually and emotionally. When watching a screen, they may be calm, but the thinking and learning pathways in the brain are not stimulated.
Watching an electronic device does not stimulate a baby to think or explore. They are alone, unaware of any potential dangers and are unable to respond to friendly and loving interactions. Think of how animals develop in the wild. Wolves have evolved and learn to use highly tuned vision to spot their prey. Deer have extraordinary hearing to hear approaching predators. Our young must pay attention to their environment. It may be a condition of survival.
Face-to-face time and mother, father, baby conversations are where empathy and intimacy is born. Digital discipline? There are times to use it and times to put it away. We want our children to be able to focus and pay attention, to develop the skills of happy, successful people. That is the skills of reflection, drawing conclusions, observing, learning, remembering, questioning, arguing, deciding, and acting.
When reading books our imagination, memory, vocabulary and critical thinking were stimulated. Television came along and fragmented attention with little need for imagination. The Internet promotes distraction, making consistent attention impossible and memory is not needed, it’s in the cloud. A positive note: Sharing screen time with an adult can mean the child remembers time spent together and remembers the information they found together on the Internet.
Some time spent with the new technology can give the brain more time to contemplate and problem solve with critical thinking. It does not have to maintain information and a child learns to find details among clutter.
- No cell phones in the playground or at the breakfast table!
- Make time for unstructured imaginative play, games, reading, being out in nature.
- Left alone the brain will not build strong pathways to the outside emotional world, and using mobile devices is the same as alone time.
- When using your digital equipment keep the screens away from baby’s face.
- When offering infants a cell phone or Ipad put the same picture or story on each time. Children can learn from repetition but cannot follow episodes.
Your baby needs your face your voice, your hugs and laughter. You need it too.
RN, CLE, Parent Educator
Sara is a British Trained Nurse, Certified Lactation Educator and Lactation Consultant. Sara comes to DayOne Baby with nearly 20 years of lactation and new parent support experience. Her vast life experience of being a mother, step-mother and grandmother adds to her perspective of challenges new families might face. She is also a Sleep, Feeding, and Parenting Consultant who was on the forefront of the idea of developmental play.