screen time theory and practice
I've often heard that you shouldn't let a kid watch tv until they're two. Ok, I don't think we're the only ones who failed on that score, but I am also wondering what you think about expanding the idea to computers as well - screen time.
YouTube is great for capturing our 20-month old's attention when we need to sit still to her toenails, but the mesmerization is kind of scary. At the same time, I realize that keeping her away from all screens is silly (and impossible), so I'm trying to come up with some reasonable strategy for letting her explore.
With books, we sit together, or she sits alone, and turns the pages, sometimes naming things in the pictures, usually not, sometimes pointing at nothing in particular. With any kind of interactive toy, we can sit and do it together and talk about it.
But on the computer, if it moves, she sits and stares, and if it doesn't, she bangs the keyboard until something happens. Skype with grandparents is a little better.
Screens on digital cameras are at least simple and interactive - they don't broadcast at you - but I don't think she gets what is going on with them yet
How do you introduce a toddler to screen media, what rules do you set?
What are you looking for them to do with it?
Are there certain skills (speech? a certain level of fine motor control?) that you have found really helped your kid get something out of media besides being entranced by shiny pictures?
You ask some really good questions.
In our family, we do count both computers and TV as screen time and place time limits based on age. Right now, our 6 year old gets maybe an hour a day. I don't know if that's the right amount of time or not, but it seems to be okay so far. The way we gauge that is to look at his willingness/ability to do other activities that engage his brain and body. If he loses interest in reading or playing outside then that's a red flag for us.
We also have a 2 year old, and his screen time is less. As you would expect, there are challenges enforcing that because it's different than the older sibling's.
Screen time is not recommended for children under age 2 because they have trouble perceiving what is real and what is not. Therefore, before our first child was 2, we allowed him a reasonable amount of screen time watching things that were real, like looking at pictures and home videos. He LOVED watching videos of himself. These were just short clips we took with our camera.
We did not let him touch the keyboard unless he pressed the keys gently. We got him a software called Giggles for Kids that locks out the keyboard so that many of the keys do the same thing and escape doesn't work, etc. It was GREAT. You could just hand over the computer if you wanted. There were many very kid friendly, even educational, activities. And the interactions were so simple, I think it effectively taught the cause/effect between keyboard and screen in a way that encourages less key-bashing. (I think there's also a Giggles for Babies?)
Now is he 3 and he is limited to about 1 hour of screen time a day. We also treat both computer and tv (and DS and iPhone) as screen time. We let him watch videos and things that do not have commercials. He's learned to use the mouse so we let him go to certain sites too (eg starfall).
Some might say we "failed" on the 'no tv until 2' rule too but, I grew up with Sesame Street, I think it's very educational and he enjoys it. Our son is 19 mos old and we let him watch one episode of Sesame Street after his afternoon nap. [It's usually the time when he gets a small fruit or veggie snack too.] He knows his A-B-C's, he's good with his numbers and he can express concepts like "Ernie under the tunnel" in some of his favorite skits. There are times when he walks away from the program and goes to do another activity so, I'll turn it off. Usually, he doesn't mind. The TV doesn't go on in our house in the morning unless it's a special occasion (T'giving morning and the Macy's parade, for example).
We had a real problem with youtube for a while. A grown-up couldn't turn on a computer without our son asking for Grover or Elmo and he wanted to watch the same video over and over. Now, he knows that the computer brings him Grandma on skype, pictures of family and friends, typing letter on notepad and, lately, 'drawing' with mommy on powerpoint. Youtube has lost its lure. For the most part, being on the computer is done with an adult so it's sharing time. [I love the idea of Giggling with Kids/babies. I'll need to look for that software.]
One other thought - have you ever given your daughter an old keyboard to bang on?