Above: A baby staring. Credit: Sidharth Sircar.
You see it in the supermarket, you see it at the bus-stop, you see it when visiting friends .... baby screen-time. A toddler, hypnotized and silent, gazing fixedly, at an iPad screen. Some jokingly refer to their iPad tablet as their baby-hypnotizer. (Like Calpol is jokingly called baby-heroin.)It is a thing these days--meaning it's a familiar aspect of modern Western culture. Very often baby screen-time is given as a convenient technique for the temporary placation and pacification of a toddler. Baby screen-time gives the parent or carer some time for themself--time enough to check their social-media account for example.
It's one aspect of our Digital Revolution: the literally mesmerized three-year-old, zoned-out in front of a tablet screen. One index to the effect baby screen-time is having on the infant mind is inferable from the mood of the child when the screen is finally removed: appalled and outraged anger usually demonstrated by acts such as hitting, yelping, screaming, or just a full-on temper tantrum.
Psychologists are still looking into the potential developmental impacts of extensive screen-time for babies and toddlers: the effects could be, for example, life-long effects on cognitive function; the production of mood disorders; or increased aggressivity. Or the effects could be null: no negative impact on infant development whatsoever. The fact is the effects have not been studied for long enough. There isn't the data. The first iPad was only released in Summer 2010. So data is still being collected and collated ...
In the meantime, parents and carers can do as they please: no scientific study has yet claimed any significant negative impacts ... so, in the absence of any caution, warning, or outright prohibition ... it must be .. fine.
(24 December 2018)