By Karen Wells | CNA Media Team
Bedtime is the best time for toddlers and parents. After a long, exciting day of exploring and learning new fine motor skills, rest is best for growing toddlers. Back in the day, bedtime meant pulling out a favorite book, turning down the household distractions, and finding a comfy place and lap.
Bedtime was a time for bonding, unwinding and marveling as the story unfolded with the soothing voice of a parent. Has bedtime reading changed in the digital age of iPads and other smart devices?
A 2015 Pew Research Center report, “Parenting in America,” found, “About eight in 10 parents with children younger than six say their children have screen time on a typical day.”
A bit of screen time before bed? Here are some things to consider before handing that smart device to your toddler before bed.
They’ve just discovered their index fingers can point, at everything. They point to get attention and to things that have gotten their attention. Toddlers are developing their fine hand skills: grasping cups, holding spoons, pulling up their pants. Although, these seem like simple tasks to adults, they are important stepping stones on the path to self care and independence.
Holding a book supports important hand and learning skills that toddlers build upon. Touching a book and turning pages while the story is read helps a child learn language, meaning, and how to read.
Many “learning” applications targeted at the very young have not been proven to be effective. Many are poorly designed, too sophisticated for young children or only “teach” rote rudimentary skills. Skills are best learned by active interaction with the environment, peers and family.
Screen time before bed, with its bright light, the “bells and whistles” of the app, and potential for frustrations – on the part of parent and/or child – distract from the goals of bonding, relaxing and falling asleep.
Multnomah County Library youth librarians and Concordia University’s George R. White Library & Learning Center can help with advice on ageappropriate digital device applications, children’s book titles and/or materials.
Concordia University’s six reference librarians are available weekdays to answer questions. Multnomah County Library’s youth librarian at the Hollywood Branch, Natasha Forrester Campbell, recommends good bedtime reads like “Lola Loves Stories,” by Anna McQuinn, “Go to Bed, Monster!” by Natasha Wing, and “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown.
So, get the house quiet, pull out a favorite book and find a comfy place. It’s bedtime. Sweet dreams.
Editors’ note: There’s a wealth of information on the web about the effect of screen time on young children. Karen provides many sites for your use at ConcordiaPDX.org/screen-time-research.