Your kid’s relationship with screens might be a sore subject in your household. No matter what you do—whether it’s restricting use altogether during the week, limiting use to educational games only, or even handing off a device as a babysitter—it’s always an issue. But new research might convince you to reconsider and look on the bright side.
Many recent studies have experimented with how preschool-age children learn using touchscreens. A Child Development study put fifty kids into two groups: one watched a virtual demonstration of a three-piece puzzle being put together (the pieces moved by themselves, or by a “ghost”) and the other watched an adult in the room put the puzzle together (referred to as social scaffolding).
After the demonstration, all the kids were asked to put together the puzzle on screen or with real objects. Those who had seen the adult do the demonstration performed better than those who hadn’t. Thus, researchers concluded that the presence of the human in addition to the educational app helped children acquire the skill best. Even better, the study further concluded that the presence of a parent, as opposed to a teacher, helped the child transfer the skill from the screen to real life.
What does this mean for you? Rather than lamenting over too much screen time, or offering it as a distraction, try joining your little one as they play on the device. It’s a win-win situation: you get quality time with your child, you get to participate in their learning while offering real-world connections, and you get to see the look on their face when they finally figure it out for themselves. Screen time doesn’t have to be such a bad thing if used in moderation.