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Mixing toddlers and touchscreens can be a tricky – not to mention sticky – situation for today’s parents. Adults often find themselves glued to their smart phones and tablet – and aren’t sure what to do when it comes to sharing those devices with their children.
Should they follow the (somewhat surprising) example of Apple founder Steve Jobs, and ban them completely? Or is it better to go the way of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who seems keen on sharing the magic of social media with his young family?
To help us understand the concerns and possible benefits of touchscreens, we need to consider both the context and content of their use.
Touchscreens are multifunctional and their uses are often multiple. Many of these do not have a strictly educational purpose, but they can enhance children’s self-regulation skills (as well as parenting strategies).
Some parents use touchscreens to extend their children’s play at home. Some use them as a portable television – and some to teach their children letters and to develop a love for reading.
Tablets are also used for calming or distracting toddlers during travel or medical procedures. Ultimately, it is up to each individual parent to decide what is important for their child, them and their family.