TV can be a good learning resource for children but it’s not nearly as effective as interactive, hands-on experiences such as touching, shaking, stacking, feeling, or problem-solving with people they’re familiar with. Therefore, a limit on screen time can be beneficial for many children.
Results Based on Studies the Role of Screen Time
Most studies on the effect of screen time on early childhood development are based on watching television. Researchers agree that TV does not offer any merits for early learning, at least for children under 2 years.
Other studies suggest that toddlers learn best in an interactive environment, where they receive proper feedback based on their actions. The problem with TV is that the programming does not give the child time to process the information, form an opinion, and respond. Ultimately this denies them the type of engagement they need for learning.
The biggest argument against TV for early childhood learning is the fact that it does not provide any feedback. However, this is not representative of all screen media. In fact, some reactive screens that engage the user have been found to be quite beneficial to children. For instance, a recent study revealed that the ability for toddlers to learn vocabulary words from a virtual Skype session on a monitor was just as effective as via face-to-face interaction.
Although the research on touchscreen devices is minimal, the fact that they’re flexible enough to provide feedback in real-time based on your actions, means that they might be useful for early childhood learning. A recent study showed that 4-6 year olds could learn logic puzzle strategies from a 2D app and effectively apply them to a real-life 3D model. Other studies also show the benefits of apps and touchscreen devices, such as the use of Bedtime Math to cultivate children’s math skills.
More research is necessary to provide conclusive recommendations. But for now, parents in Van Nuys, Los Angeles can rest easy substituting the television for a tablet or smartphone; not for their children to stream online entertainment, but to engage with apps that offer high-quality content for their development.