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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redK8... redK8blueSt8

I think all pediatricians agree that toddlers need 0, as in ZERO hours of screen time.

The "symptoms" mentioned above are exactly the same reactions and behaviors of any toddler who has the toy of the moment taken from them. They're not addicted, they're spoiled and indulged.

It's called parenting. Far more people with kids should give it a shot.

nonmember avatar stirguest

^^^ Oh please. I don't think hours of any kind of screen time is good for kids but once in a while it's okay. Everything in moderation. I am a good parent and my son plays games on the tablet sometimes. Not a big deal.

lobus lobus

My toddler uses my kindle to watch educational videos on YouTube as well as apps and I have downloaded some of his favorite movies. He gets a it as a treat and I take it away when I see fit sometimes he doesn't care sometimes he freaks but he gets over it. He doesn't use it in the car or all day. And honestly its a nice repireve for me and he's learned a lot so idc.

tuffy... tuffymama

LO recently received a Kindle Fire as a gift from the ILs, and he was hooked in the first minute. I have to set a timer for fifteen or thirty minutes a day (depending on which app he is using), and he knows to switch it off and hand it over when the timer beeps. We have speech and problem solving apps on it, and I am pleasantly surprised that they are helping a bit. He chose an extra fifteen minutes to play Pepi Tree on the Kindle on Saturday as a reward for completing his OT last week. It's a much less expensive reward than a new Thomas train.

older... oldermomat41

Whose toddler is only awake for 10 hours a day...really?? My nearly 3 yr old wakes between 6:30-7:00 am and goes to bed at 8pm so 13 hours a day to fill. Yes he gets a little ipad time but I have no problem taking it away. I do however have a HUGE problem with my husband who thinks its okay to let him have it for awhile at bedtime. That is one bad habit and I am having a harder time getting my husband to break that habit than my toddler. :(

nonmember avatar Ero

I say there is moderation in this like regular toys. A child will cry wether you take away a toy or an iPad/Kindle. I don't think a toddler needs an iPad or Kindle personally unless the parent monitors it.

I know a two year old that is really good at not breaking an iPad or my iPod touch. Then he gives it back to me or a parent when done.

On the other hand I see parents shove devices like these in their kids face to make them stay silent and if the kid is clumsy it breaks. I prefer family time over touch screen time with the child I babysit and it's nice to see them still play with traditional toys.

Although its 2013, you still need to PARENT and avoid this addiction for your toddlers. Nature is going, show them reality.

LoveM... LoveMyViolet

I rarely let my toddler use my phone. And she rarely asks to use it. A lot of people I know think it's weird and tell me in this day and age they need to learn technology. I say, she's only 2. I'm not worried. 

problip problip

my son does not play video games but when he does, we all play together on the WII and its asually bowling or some other sport activity mainly on those dreaded days off of school when it is raining and as for TV he watches about 30 minutes of TV in the morning while eating breakfast so it is hardly getting watched anyway then sometimes i get a movie through netflix that all of us can enjoy as a family.

Katy Khan

My son gets 20 minutes on the ipad while I shower and any other time it's 20 minutes max. I can see where addiction could begin. 

Angie... AngieHayes

When we are home both of my children play with the ipad, when we are not at home and out and about, no one ever mentions the ipad, DS, or leapfrog. People are really weird, whats OK for them, isn't for the kids. People sit infront of computers, phones, tablets, all day long, and your child plays with one for 30 minutes and you feel the need to take them away and deprive them. Just like people do with bottles, binkies, thumb sucking, and anything else, you name it, people want to take things away from children that they love.

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