Another title for this article (10 years ago) would have been “Should you keep the Tube in the family room?”
I’m not sure what you think but there is a growing trend of children wearing glasses from a very young age. 20 years ago, I knew this was predominantly caused by watching too much TV at impossibly close distance or reading under poor lighting.
These days, it seems the main culprit are the digital devices we are exposing our children to, from very young ages.
I am constantly concerned by the sight of toddlers in their strollers swiping away at their mobile devices, totally engrossed in their own world while the parents or sometimes helper indulge in their own activities.
We are not here to take a swipe at parents who are guilty of doing this. It’s a fact that most (if not all) parents are swarmed by work, trying to make a living and put food on the table and staying connected has become part and parcel of working life. However, our children do not know this and they will do whatever needed to fight for our attention.
So when you are busy, and your child is screaming for attention, the easy solution is to distract them. The iPad (or similar mobile device) performs this role perfectly and it is becoming a common sight to see toddlers entertaining themselves through an iPad or phone. Granted they are usually watching curated content meant for kids, the worry is over the effect of using mobile devices at such tender age on their social development and social here does not refer to social media but that of interacting with people in real life.
As parents, we empathise with you. We have the same struggles. However, we also made a firm consensus in the family not to let our baby come close to mobile devices or the Tube unnecessarily. A quick glance at these devices is probably inevitable from time to time but there is no reason for her to be exposed to the blue light that can affect her vision. Such damage can be irreparable and going under LASIK later is not ideal either. Prevention is always better than cure.
There definitely comes a day when your children would need to have access to mobile devices or maybe it’s virtual reality devices in their era. If so, let that be. We are not advocating stone-age living but giving access to our beloved children at the right timing can make a world of difference.
Medical expert opinion on eye development for children proposes 0 – 6 years as the crucial formative years and thus it is imperative not to let your toddlers come into frequent contact with such digital devices. Beyond 6 years of age, it is still important to take note and ensure they are not using these devices for prolonged periods of time. The occasional WhatsApp messaging (becoming a common feature in many classrooms) is acceptable but it is important to stay away from mobile gaming or watching too much video content.
Our advice for parents is not to let your toddlers use mobile devices until they are more developed and that is usually after six years old.
This is a topic that draws much attention and discussion. We are curious to know what other families think. Do share with us your thoughts in the comments below. Do you let your toddlers use mobile devices, and if yes, what advantages over disadvantages do you see?