Children under 2 shouldn't use touchscreens – experts


A new study has found most two-year-olds have mastered using touchscreens. But experts say children younger than two shouldn't be using touchscreens at all.

When the sun is shining, there's little better to do than head out to the park. But paediatricians are concerned that parents are turning to touchscreens to entertain their toddlers in the holidays.

A new study reveals children as young as 12 months regularly use touchscreens.

By two, most can swipe, unlock and search.

"Now with the touchscreens you're actually interacting a bit more, but I still don't think it's quite the same as talking and playing, and it's that which children really need," says Professor Barry Taylor from the University of Otago.

Current advice suggests zero screen time for under twos and no more than two hours a day for children older than two.

Parents 3 News spoke to today weren't against them, but said their children preferred to play.

Prof Taylor warns that using digital devices affects brain function and interaction skills and the blue light can upset sleep patterns, and that goes for adults too.

"This blue frequency light actually goes directly into special receptors in the eyes that turn off the sleep hormone melatonin," he says.

"So if they're using these within the hour before going to sleep it's quite likely to stop their ability to go to sleep easily."

Even computer science lecturers say there's no rush for toddlers to become tech-savvy.

"Small children should be running around and playing on the monkey bars and falling down sometimes, and all that stuff that everybody did when they were a kid that involved making things and imagination," says Dr Paul Ralph.

"You can't replace that with swiping your fingers across a screen."

Grandparents agree – screentime can't compete with playtime, and that seems to suit the children too.

3 News