The article all parents must read if your toddler is under two and is around screens

Parents are often surprised to learn their toddler is in an age category that must have no screen time.

Screen time has negative impacts on babies and toddlers. These impacts include shorter attention spans and lower levels of empathy.

The World Health Organisation recommends no screen time for babies under 2 years of age.

What does screen time mean and why are we talking about it?

“Screen time” means activities done in front of a screen, such as watching TV, working on a computer, smartphones, tablets or playing video games.

Screens are used for work, education, communication and leisure. Small amounts of screen time can be useful and enjoyable for families.

It seems like everyone is talking about children, screen time and its impacts lately and well, that’s because, they are.

In today’s technology driven world researchers and health care professionals are beginning to see some of the effects of screen time on children’s health.

Here are three ways screen time can negatively impact your toddler and how you can start modelling healthy screen use

3 ways screen time can negatively impact my toddler

  1. Lower levels of empathy. Until babies develop language, screen time deters toddlers’ ability to read faces and learn social skills. These two skills are important factors needed in developing empathy.
  2. Reduces impulse control. If toddlers are constantly stimulated by screens, they will not learn how to control their impulses.
  3. Detracts attention span. Screen time takes away from your toddler’s ability to learn how to concentrate and focus. This ability starts to develop during the earliest years and for the brain to develop it needs essential stimuli from the outside world.

How do I model healthy screen behaviour around my toddler?

Even if your toddler is not using screens, your toddler watches and learns how you use yours from you.

This means you can start modelling healthy behaviour by:

  • Switching off your phone during meals
  • Turning the tv off when you’ve finished watching a program
  • Balancing your screen use with activities like being outdoors, reading and doing physical activity
  • Giving your child your full attention and avoid checking your phone when you’re playing together or feeding your child.

These tips will also help to address a new reality we all face called technoference. This is a habit we are all likely guilty of, scrolling through social media, emails or messages and saying, “in a minute” and often not hearing or responding to our children. Studies show that the reduced responsiveness by a parent caused by the use screens is associated with negative mental and behavioural outcomes in children.

It is important to remember, having a loving, stable and responsive relationship is fundamental to your toddler’s development.

The more experiences your toddler has with you there to support them, the more your child grows and thrives.

When your child feels safe and attached to you, your child is more likely to have the confidence to explore their world. Playing with your toddler strengthens your relationship and encourages your toddler to explore, observe, experiment and solve problems.

If you have any concerns with your child’s development, you can find out more by accessing the Early Childhood Authority’s website at or contact the Child Health Line on 024194983. Operated by Mubadala Health (available 10:00 am -18:00 pm).


This initiative is a collaboration between the Early Childhood Authority, Mubadala and Mubadala Health

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