I love seeing and talking to my grandchildren with video chat. It doesn’t surprise me then that interactive video chats can also be a means for babies and toddlers 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 not interactive, but mainly prerecorded video. Watching video is a sedentary activity, inactive rather than interactive. A prerecorded video cannot interact with the child viewing it. Children spending too much passive screen time were found to have poor language skills and often missed out on other activities that were important for development.
Skype, FaceTime, Google Duo, Facebook, Zoom, and other video chat apps provide for an interactive relationship. 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 Myers’s study quickly noticed the difference between live and prerecorded video. Children were more interactive with FaceTime live video, than with the prerecorded video used in the study. They learned social information, and they preferred and recognized someone they had met via video chat rather than the instructor on a prerecorded video. 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 can represent quality time with your children or grandchildren.
Lillian Tibbles is a grandmother and author of 3 books about Video Chat with Kids.
Her latest book How to Have Fun with Kids & Grandkids Using Video Chat is available
in both digital and print format.