Q: My child is 13 months old and loves reading books. She is below the 24 month suggested age for screen time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Is it ok to read books with her on the iPad?
~ iPerplexed, USA
A: Dear iPerplexed,
This is a wonderful question and one that many parents ask in light of all the books and apps marketed to infants and toddlers. The short answer is “yes” as the most important part of your question deals with the action of reading to your daughter as opposed to the device.
The most meaningful part of reading with your daughter at her age is that she is in your lap and cuddling with you. To put it simply, laps are more important than apps. The time you spend together is as much about social emotional learning and bonding as it is about the content in the book itself, or in her being able to decode the words you are saying into sounds, and then language, and then into a story. It’s the process, rather than the product, that is of interest here.
One note of caution would be not to read on an iPad or similar tablet device before bed. You want to avoid her staring at a bright screen that suppresses her melatonin secretion and thus does not allow her to wind down before sleep. Even a Kindle or other e-ink enabled device is better than an iPad or other tablet that emits blue light. And, of course, there are books, to which many initially avid iPad readers are returning – which do not suppress melatonin or require charging, and have the added sensory inputs of a book’s feel and smell.
To enrich your reading time further, keep in mind that you are stimulating your daughter’s imagination to think about different places and characters. Remember to point out pictures, ask and answer questions, and above all, enjoy your time together. You are modeling the joys of reading, imagination and just being together. This is the initial stage of your daughter’s language development, creative growth, and learning how to synthesize ideas into narrative and communicate with others. Reading to her is one of the best things you can do with and for your daughter, regardless of what you are reading on.
Enjoy your media and use them wisely,
~ The Mediatrician®