I made my decision to limit screens before my oldest was even born. The decision resulted from one of many discussions with my husband while we were anxiously awaiting baby.
During that particular conversation, we both commented on how we had seen so many very young children in public with a tablet or phone. We observed that these children seemed to demonstrate less than favorable behavior when their technology was involved. They also seemed to talk less and definitely didn’t seem to have much fun!
We were in full agreement that we would not be introducing our baby to any handheld screen devices. But although we felt it was the right decision for our family, I worried somewhat that my thoughts were judgmental. Even though I was a practicing speech-language pathologist at that time, I still did not have concrete evidence for my gut feeling in 2013.
But soon, I learned the terminology to explain my theories. I quickly became familiar with the research. And as it turns out, our decision on screen time for our baby happened a bit by chance. In all of our new parent classes and seas of handouts, there was nothing on how to handle technology with our little one! In fact, it wasn’t until my child was 5 years-old that I was asked about household screen time at a routine check-up. At that point, habits are far more difficult to break, and I couldn’t help but wonder about the families who hadn’t had a screen time conversation until then.
The Be Tech Wise With Baby! resource, available for download in English and in Spanish, provides new parents with exactly that information at a time when they need it the most. The resource, developed by ASHA and CCFC’s Children’s Screen Time Action Network, helps parents feel supported, encouraged, and prepared when facing the most unexpected and challenging parenting situations. The baby’s needs change so quickly. They will soon outgrow midnight feedings and diaper rash, but the speech and learning skills they develop now will last a lifetime.
CCFC’s latest Action Network Live! event, New Baby, New Year: Resolve to be a Tech Wise Parent, is an excellent companion to the Be Tech Wise with Baby! resource. In the webinar, Dr. Carol Westby, PhD CCC-SLP, Samah Saidi, M.S. CCC-SLP, and developmental pediatrician Dr. Mark Bertin, MD discussed the impact of screen time on infants, and how new parents can help support their child’s development in a digital world.
While the negative impacts of screens were discussed in regard to this vulnerable—and too often overlooked—population, the overall message was truly inspiring to new parents and contained a wealth of information on how to establish the best possible connection with baby from the very beginning!
About the author
LeAnna Heinrich, M.S. CCC-SLP, is ASHA certified, and a member of the Early Childhood Work Group at CCFC’s Children’s Screen Time Action Network. LeAnna is the co-author of Be Tech Wise With Baby!