Is It OK For Toddlers To Use iPads?

Compromise: it’s a built in part of parenting. You won’t always do tummy time, dinner will sometimes be frozen waffles, and your hair — well, you know how that goes. But the idea of bargaining becomes rapidly apparent once your baby hits toddlerhood. You do your best to stick with a firm no and refuse to let your toddler make the rules, but sometimes bending is required to maintain sanity. When it comes to tablet devices, your modus operandi has been the same — a little here, a little there. But is it OK for toddlers to use iPads?

"In a word: yes. It’s perfectly healthy and normal in 2017 to allow your toddler to use a tablet," Jared Miracle, an anthropologist and education researcher most well-known for trumpeting the benefits of gaming, tells Romper in an email interview. "That is, within reason."

Miracle explains that, while the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), has provided guidelines for limiting time with electronic media and using it as time to show a child how to navigate the digital world, he feels like iPad usage is "mostly a matter of common sense."

"When a group like the AAP issues guidelines for screen use, they have to apply them to everyone in the safest manner possible — fair enough," he says. "But you know your child better than they do. Use your own best judgment when it comes to tablet time."

Miracle cautions that, of course, parents should not hand children an iPad and allow them to mindlessly use the device. They can, however, show their toddlers educational games and apps, while maintaining moderate usage.

Dr. Daniel Ganjian, a board-certified pediatrician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, tells Romper that, based on the AAP guidelines about screen time, he does not recommend that children younger than 18 months use an iPad or similar device.

"After that, children can have minimal contact with high-quality educational media such as Sesame Street," Ganjian says. "Parents should not use the tablet as a babysitter that hypnotizes the child and frees the parent to do what they want to do."

Instead, he says, parents should watch a program with the child and help them understand what they are watching. For children ages 2 to 5 years, the AAP recommended parents limit screen use to one hour per day of high-quality programs.

Miracle agrees, adding that parents should consider a toddler’s access to an iPad as an advantage, seeing as how many children do not have access to such devices and have to play catch up in "a world that expects them to have already developed digital literacy skills."

"Capitalize on the iPad by teaching social skills and information literacy," Miracle says. "Apple makes a fine product, but a lousy babysitter."

As for the tantrum in the middle of women's clothing at Target? Well, I hear wine, smiling, and just plugging your ears are fine options.