The BIG question: How much screen time – if any – should your child be allowed?
This popular parenting debate is often top of mind in our iPhone-tablet-Netflix-gadget-loving world. Is it okay to give your kid quality time with Elmo in order for you to get peaceful dinner making? In our opinion, it's a personal choice that every parent has to make in our device-obsessed age. (We're in—but with limits.)
The American Academy of Pediatrics has offered guidance on children's and adolescents' media use saying, “Limit entertainment screen time to less than one or two hours per day; in children under two, discourage screen media exposure."
For many parents, it's not always black and white. Children are now born with the ability to magically unlock our iPhones with their tiny fingers—and other recent research shows that some programming, like Sesame Street, can actually boost outcomes for little brains. What's a parent to do?
Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH, FAAP, and member of the AAP Council on Communication and Media has argued for responsible media use for children under two saying, “Tablets can be used to read books to children, and high quality apps are similar to toys. Therefore, the AAP needs to consider how these devices are used instead of discouraging their use across the board. We don't want to risk appearing so out of touch that we're irrelevant and people won't take our advice seriously."
Media use is always going to be a part of our parenting, so you might get started by creating a family media use plan so that everyone's on the same page.
If you are ready to pop out the iPad (sometimes!), or are looking for new entertainment for your toddler, we've rounded up some of our top picks.
Here are some of our favorite creative and smart apps to consider for your kiddo:
Elmo Calls: This is an app full of fun phone calls from Elmo, which will help teach your child about healthy habits, self-confidence, and letters. [From iTunes]
Starfall: Includes the popular 'It's Fun to Read' section, including Magic, Poetry, Tongue Twisters, Bird Riddles, Art & Music. [From iTunes]
Petting Zoo: 21 animated animals. Full of surprises, wit and quirky animations! "A wonderful App for all ages!" "Absolutely adorable" — USA TODAY [From iTunes]
Sago Mini Ocean Swimmer: LOL as you explore a magical underwater world with Fins the fish. [From iTunes]
Endless Alphabet: 2013 App of the Year Runner-Up. App Store's Editor's Choice. Over 60 interesting words to learn and play with! [From iTunes]
Endless Reader: Comprehensive collection of sight words to learn and play! [From iTunes]
Endless Numbers: As a follow-up to Endless Alphabet, set the stage for early learning about numbers! Kids will learn numbers faster than you can say "You have FIVE minutes left on the iPad!" [From iTunes]
Arthur Reads: The beloved aardvark makes his digital app debut. Nervous energy sure to come.
Number Quiz: Number Quiz has four different games for every stage of learning; flashcards, identification, matching and handwriting. Designed for kids but great for all ages.
Cookie Doodle: 2011 Parents' Choice Recommended Award winner - Parents' Choice Foundation. Plus: cookies! Sprinkles! Yum!
Wheels on the Bus by Duck Duck Moose: A tribute to a childhood classic, 'Wheels on the Bus,' turns learning into fun actiticies.
Trucks [and many others by Duck Duck Moose]: An award-winning educational, creative play app, Trucks teaches sequencing, sorting and problem solving. Get ready to head to the carwash, tow trucks, pick up garbage and recycling, and so much more! For the little truck lover in your life.
Elmo Loves ABCs: This is an app full of games, activities and videos which will help teach your child about letters, sounds and words.
The Boynton Collection: Stomp your feet and clap your hands! Now you can find Sandra Boynton's first four interactive apps in one convenient place: The Going to Bed Book, Moo, Baa, La La La!, Blue Hat, Green Hat, and Barnyard Dance!
Toddler Flashcards: Toddler Flashcards is a great tool to help children (and even babies) learn basic words. Plus, cute puppy pictures. What's not to love?
Tozzle Lite Toddlers: Looking for something entertaining but also educational for your kid? Then Tozzle is the perfect app to help your little one learns to improve shape recognition and motor activity.
Busy Shapes: If you're looking to sharpen your child's reasoning skills and awaken their intelligence, checkout this digital exploratory playground.
The Little Red Hen: We're bringing the classics back in a whole new way!
Baby's Musical Hands: Baby can make the screen come alive with motion and music with his touch, meaning "your baby gets the kind of feedback they expect when touching the screen."
Eli Explorer: Created by early childhood experts, this app encourages kids to explore while learning their first words in a safe, interactive world free from levels and rules. No rules??? This rocks!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar & Friends – First Words
This game helps toddlers to learn their first words from the much-loved characters. Watch your favorite books come alive!