Your Toddler May Already Have a Disturbing Addiction

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toddler ipadWe're all still trying to figure out how we feel about children and technology -- especially when it comes to younger kids, like toddlers. How much is too much? Should they avoid tech toys altogether? Shouldn't toddlers just be wandering in sun-lit meadows, picking flowers and creating wet-felted gnomes?

That would be lovely, but it's definitely not the world most of us live in. By now it seems like most parents let their toddlers have at least a taste of screen time every so often. And then there are the parents who give their kids LOADS of screen time. Way too much. Doctors are starting to see the dangerous effects of iPad addiction in toddlers. Yes, toddlers.

Parents are starting to seek therapy to treat their electronics-addicted children. These kids spend hours on tablets daily -- and when those tablets get taken away, they may become "distressed and inconsolable." Ruh-roh. But wait, says every parent of a toddler. Don't kids get all "distressed and inconsolable" whenever you take anything away from them? Are you saying my toddler is addicted to that empty yogurt container, too?

Well, it sounds like this is a little different. One doctor tells how a mother described her daughter's symptoms. "She told me she had developed an obsession with the device and would ask for it constantly. She was using it three to four hours every day and showed increased agitation if it was removed."

Okay, so we have three or four hours a day, we have obsession, we have constant requests -- and we have escalation. What's worse is that toddlers want those gadgets partly because they see us on our gadgets. We're modeling that addiction for them!

Doctors worry that children won't learn to socialize with people and that they'll learn to use electronics to soothe themselves.

We've heard about kids becoming anti-social because of their devices. But using tablets and smartphones for comfort? That's a little new to me. And it's scary. Learning to dig deep within themselves and find ways to soothe themselves without using gadgets is an extremely important skill -- a lesson that will carry them through adulthood. Are we robbing our kids of that experience by letting them bask in the electronic glow of iPads?

It's something to think about. Considering babies and toddlers are often awake for only 10 or so hours a day, spending four of those hours on screen time is way too much. If you're worried about this, it might be time to start tracking how much screen time your toddler gets.

Do you think any amount of screen time is okay for toddlers, or none at all?

 

Image via Scott & Elaine van der Chijs/Flickr

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