I love seeing and talking to my grandchildren on Skype. It doesn’t surprise me then that interactive video calls can also be a means for toddlers and children to learn, and to develop and maintain relationships with others.
In the past, the American Academy of Pediatrics discouraged screen time for kids under 2 years of age. These guidelines were developed when the screen time was prerecorded video. This type of screen time is a sedentary activity, inactive rather than interactive. These videos don’t react or respond to those viewing it. Children spending too much passive screen time were found to have poor language skills and to miss out on other activities that were important for development.
Skype and FaceTime are different. Lauren Myers, PhD and colleagues at Lafayette College have demonstrated that video chat provides for an interactive relationship with others. This is great news for grandparents and parents.
Children in Myer’s study quickly noticed the difference between live and prerecorded video. Children were more interactive with the FaceTime live video, rather than the prerecorded video used in the study. They learned social information – they preferred and recognized someone they had met via video chat. They also learned cognitive information like new words and patterns.
The conclusion is that children will engage and learn from screen time interactions. Video chat with Skype and FaceTime can represent quality time with your children or grandchildren.