Should Very Young Children Use Tablets and Smartphones?

For Parade

Publication Date: 
November 25, 2014

Anonymous in Burke, Va., writes:
A friend of mine has a 1-year-old son who can already use a tablet computer. He knows how to unlock the screen, select and open apps, and scroll up-and-down and left-and-right. He enjoys using apps that are designed for babies and very young children. Do you think it’s a good idea for children this young to be using tablet computers and smartphones, etc.?

Marilyn responds:
Babies are products of nature, not of modern technology. At this age, their brains are still developing, and evolution has prepared them for living interaction and hands-on playthings to further and complete the process. I call it the “organic imperative,” and it isn’t limited to infancy. Allowing electronic devices to encroach upon the fulfillment of these inborn needs is a risky business at best. (I don’t think even watching DVDs is a good idea at this age.) A child’s growing intellect might be deflected or harmed. Almost as bad, if the parents are trying to produce a superkid, they should know that these efforts typically fail (or worse, backfire), even if not until later in life.