Unsupervised smartphone time for a toddler: good or bad?

toddler smartphone child media Thriving Mediatrician
(Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock)

Is it okay to let a three-year-old use a smartphone or tablet unsupervised? That’s the question a parent recently posed to Boston Children’s Hospital’s Mediatrician, Michael Rich, MD, MPH, director of the hospital’s Center on Media and Child Health.

His answer? Not really:

Using a smartphone, tablet, or even watching TV together allows you to observe your daughter’s immediate response to and use of the screen, while also creating a shared experience. This kind of joint media engagement (JME) provides a richer and healthier experience for the child both in terms of her social-emotional development and for her learning.

Handing a young child a screen to pacify her is problematic, both because it appears to reward her for the behavior you are attempting to pacify and because of what her screen time displaces.

Read the rest of Rich’s response on our sister blog, Thriving.