Mobile media are exciting even for the youngest children because they see the devices with mom, dad or siblings. But how can you deal with this if your child is actually still too young to use smartphones and the like?
Children are curious by nature. The bright glow of the screen, the many sounds – all this is exciting. They closely observe the role that small devices play in the everyday lives of adults: When everyone is looking at their smartphone on the bus or train, when mom always has the tablet at hand at home and big brother and his friends are gambling on the game console, the small devices seem to be very important and are all the more tempting.
In the first months of life, babies are not yet developed enough to use mobile media purposefully and understand the content. It is much more important for your child’s development to get to know the world with all their senses and without a screen. It is not until the second year of life that children develop an understanding of pictoriality. They begin to distinguish digital content from real-world objects. The best way for young children to gain their first experience with mobile media is with picture books on their smartphone or tablet.
IMPORTANT: Avoid overstimulation by media. This can be caused by flashy colors, fast movements or too many sounds, but also by complex stories that your child is not yet able to process. The most suitable topics are those that your child knows from his or her everyday life: pictures of familiar animals, vehicles, or other children. Keep media use time very low with young children and allow plenty of other sensory experiences. This includes touching things, movement and contact with other people.
From around the age of three, children can understand media and their content better and better if the stories are kept simple and they tie in with their own experiences. Watching videos together on a smartphone or tablet can help your child learn more about the world around them and how to handle different situations. It is important that you accompany your child in his or her media use so that he or she can discuss and process what he or she has seen with you.
At this age, your child increasingly wants to and can make media content himself. There is a huge selection of apps out there for your child to get creative with. Recommended are simple applications in which, for example, stamping or coloring is required. But make sure that your child has enough opportunities to be creative away from digital media.
In our article Good apps for kids you will learn what you should look for when choosing suitable programs.
When kids ask for a tablet or smartphone, consider the need behind it: entertainment on a long car ride, socializing while video chatting with grandpa, and just unwinding…. Different reasons for media use have their justification. It is unfavorable when media are used permanently and needs cannot be satisfied in any other way. As parents, teach alternative strategies for dealing with boredom or tension. First, your child orients himself to you. If you yourself use media only in certain situations, you are a good role model for your child. Even at a young age, it can help to set rules for media use in the family. In addition to fixed media rituals, there should also be media-free times.
If the devices get into children’s hands, you should pay attention to child-friendly covers for tablets and protective covers for smartphones. Smartphones in particular are often expensive and prone to damage. Protective covers make the use of the devices easier and safer.