The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies younger than 18 months have no screen time at all. The exception to this rule is video chatting with family members or friends.
Toddlers 18 months to 24 months old can start to enjoy some high-quality programming and apps alongside a parent or caregiver.
Kids two to three years old should get no more than one hour of screen time a day.
If you’re going to allow your toddler to have some screen time, use it as an opportunity to interact with your little one. For example, playing an interactive game together is a good option. Meanwhile, setting them down in front of the television while you watch your favorite show is less than optimal screen time and should be avoided.
It’s also a good idea to establish screen time limits when your child is a toddler. Doing so will make these guidelines easier to enforce as they get older. Also, try to keep bedrooms and mealtimes screen-free for all, and schedule lots of non-screen activities into your toddler’s day.
What Are Some Pros and Cons of Apps for Toddlers?
High-quality, interactive, and age-appropriate apps for toddlers can help them learn and expand their cognitive skills, as well as develop their technical and media literacy. If you and your toddler play with apps together, it also can strengthen your parent-child relationship.
However, children learn best from interacting with others, so too much screen time may be detrimental to their social and emotional development. If you give your child an iPad or phone when they’re bored, upset, or frustrated, they’re missing opportunities to develop important self-regulation and problem-solving skills. Excess screen time also can impact their sleep quality, which could also lead to emotional and developmental issues.
Be sure to research and review apps before your toddler starts using them. For instance, organizations such as Common Sense Media rate and recommend apps for their age appropriateness and educational value. Overall, the best apps for toddlers are ones that focus on exploration and open-ended play, encouraging them to engage and learn.