It’s really fascinating to see the endless debate between parents, scientists and researchers over whether or not allowing a toddler to have some form of screentime either by watching television (which is what most children that age in previous generations did), playing age-appropriate video games or tinkering with a cool app on their parents’ smartphone.
Science Daily points out that allowing toddlers to have some screentime in moderation can boost their learning as some studies hint that children at that age learn best with interactive studies—something apps are perfect for.
PBS adds that there was a study done decades ago that proves children who are allowed to watch Sesame Street actually pick up on key concepts and vocabulary a lot faster than they would have if they didn’t watch the television show.
Shows like Sesame Street also subtlety teach children how to regulate their emotions and to think before they act, which goes a long way to putting the kibosh on things like temper tantrums out in public.
Parents that are on the fence about screentime and allowing too much technology, the following list is a compilation of the signs that a toddler needs to play with more devices as well as the benefits of technology.
20 Their Hand-Eye Coordination Isn't Improving
Hand-eye coordination is an important developmental step for toddlers, and in this day and age, there are plenty of apps and video games that can help a little one hone this skill.
Psychology Today writes that if parents notice that their child’s hand-eye coordination isn’t improving, then that is a big ole’ sign that they really need to play with some educational apps on a tablet or a computer for a longer period of time. Some parents might balk at this, but apps and video games are a great way to improve hand-eye coordination in toddlers. They don’t have to sit in front of a tablet all day, but a slight increase in using technology to learn will benefit them.
19 Their Language Skills Could Use A Boost
Psychology Today notes that there are plenty of educational shows and games that will help your toddler work on their language skills, so if mom or dad realizes that their child’s language skills are not quite up to par with some of their peers in the neighborhood, it might be best to download apps that will help their little one’s vocabulary and grammar skills blossom.
They can also turn to the time-tested fan-favorite television show Sesame Street, which features plenty of songs and fun interactive activities that will help your toddler overcome the language hurdle in no time at all.
18 You Notice They Struggle To Kick A Ball
I’ll be honest—my coordination hasn't been the best ever since I was a little girl and I still don’t know how I wound up excelling at an art form like belly dance as an adult, especially since it requires tons of isolation and coordination skills for things like balancing candles on your head.
For parents that have children that are just as uncoordinated as I was during my toddler years and they have noticed that their child struggles with simple tasks such as kicking a ball, Psychology Today recommends purchasing an age-appropriate video game or computer game for them to play in the hopes that it will help them improve.
17 They're Not Babbling After Hearing A Story On An App
It is pretty common for toddlers to go on and on to anyone that will listen about a story they just heard, especially if they were using an interactive storytelling app to listen to the tale.
If you’re letting your toddler listen to stories on an app or on television and they’re not babbling about how they want to hear it again (and again, and again), then City Mom Blogs writes that is a good sign that they might need a little more time to play with the app as well as more time with mom and dad reading stories to them (ideally before bedtime) in general.
16 Your Toddler Keeps Messing Up The ABCs
Technology in this day and age has made plenty of leaps and bounds. Both my little sister and I learned the alphabet by watching television shows like Sesame Street or by singing along with our parents to a stuffed animal that moved and recited the alphabet, but Baby Center notes that now there are plenty of apps like Interactive Alphabet ABCs that will teach your baby in no time at all.
That’s why if your toddler keeps making mistakes when it comes to the alphabet, it’s time to download some more apps and increase his or her screen time so that they can improve ASAP.
15 Mixing Up Words
Child Development writes that one thing to be on the lookout for as a sign that your child might need some more time with the technology available to us nowadays is when they start mixing up words.
Sure, it’s common for children that age to make grammatical mistakes or mix up words that they already know, but with all of the available interactive books, games and apps that parents can use to help their toddler’s vocabulary expand, this mix-up could be partially due to the fact that they need to work their brain more with a fun activity on the tablet.
14 They Struggle To Recognize The Popular Characters On Sesame Street
PBS writes that in 1969, scientists performed a study that proved television shows like Sesame Street were, in fact, not going to turn kids into mindless devotees of the tube but actually provided a ton of educational benefits for little ones; this is partially why pretty much every kid even today can name their favorite character from this beloved series.
If you notice that your child is struggling to distinguish Big Bird from Oscar the Grouch while your neighbor’s child can practically list every single character on the show, it’s time to let your toddler dive into the wonderful world of Sesame Street more often.
13 They Start Nagging You During Long Car Rides Because They Are Bored
Pretty much every generation has relied on some form of technology to keep children entertained during long car rides. When my parents were growing up, my grandparents often played the radio and let them sing along to cure their boredom. My sister and I on the other hand eagerly took advantage of the Walkman and later Discman technology to occupy ourselves when we knew we’d be traveling in the car with our parents for a long period of time.
A Crock of Schmidt points out that it’s normal for mom and dad to utilize technology like tablets to keep their toddler amused during a long drive, but if your little one refuses to take it and keeps complaining that he or she is bored, it’s time to up their technology time when you get home.
12 Your Toddler Isn't In Touch With The Latest Popular Cartoons
A Crock Of Schmidt notes that it’s common across all generations for children to eagerly anticipate watching their favorite cartoons. When I was growing up, my friends and I loved tuning in to television shows like Sailor Moon, Johnny Quest, Scooby-Doo, and The Animaniacs.
Today’s toddlers go gaga for shows like Dora The Explorer the same way my friends and I flipped for Sailor Moon, so you might not want to limit the amount of television your child watches if they can’t even rattle off cartoons that are popular amongst their peers.
11 They Still Don't Know How To Navigate Devices
It’s so interesting to see how technology changes from generation to generation and how effortlessly children grow up knowing how to use it. For example, my boyfriend’s sister recently had a baby and as he’s getting older, he’s learning to recognize when his parents are talking to someone via video chat and he knows to immediately start waving at the screen so that whoever they are talking to will see and acknowledge him.
In an age where many parents introduce devices to their children at a young age, Baby Center writes that it’s not cool when a toddler barely knows how to navigate a tablet and play a simple game on it.
10 He Or She Isn't Inspired For New Play Ideas After Using An App
Common Sense Media points out that in the digital age, parents can easily download an app onto their tablet or smartphone that will teach toddlers some cool skills like identifying basic bugs so that they can start developing some basic age-appropriate observational skills even before they go off to school.
If your toddler’s spark of creativity seems as if it has been dulled recently, it might be time to find more apps that will boost their imagination and inspire them to go out of doors to learn more about the world around them and all of the cool things that can be found in nature.
9 They Have Difficulty Relating To Characters That Treat Each Other Fairly
PBS writes that one advantage of letting toddlers watch educational television shows such as Sesame Street is that it gives them a role model to show them how to treat others fairly, and it also provides them with characters to help them remember to mind their manners when they are with a group of their peers.
Sure, all toddlers have bad days and can have meltdowns because they don’t want to share their toys with a friend at a playdate at the local park, but if this is a reoccurring event, then you might want to crank up the Sesame Street to help your toddler learn to empathize with others.
8 Your Toddler Struggles To Correctly Name Animals
My family finds it very funny that I grew up to be a dog trainer and a dog walker due to the fact that I was fascinated by animals from the time I was a toddler and they like to regale me with stories about how I wanted to pet every single dog I met at that age.
There are many toddlers that love animals and Baby Center notes that thanks to apps like Zoo Train, children at that age can learn new words and learn to name different animals at the exact same time, so be on the lookout if your child is struggling to figure out which critter is a lion and which is a dolphin.
7 Trying To Unlock A Smartphone Baffles Them
My boyfriend’s nephew isn’t even a year old yet and he’s already starting to pick up on the fact that some smartphones require the user to tap out a password onto the screen because he watches his parents use their devices. So when they hold it out to show him, he starts tapping on the screen too.
There is plenty of educational media out there for toddlers to enjoy, but Baby Center notes that you should be aware of whether or not they can easily navigate a device like a smartphone or if they start feeling confused when they try to use on with minimal help from either mom or dad.
6 They Aren't As Interested In Learning New Things
Baby Center writes that one really great benefit of the digital age is that all of this media can help your toddler learn new things; sometimes even faster than he or she would have if they were growing up in a generation where this technology wasn’t even invented yet.
Toddlers are naturally curious and another sign that they might need more opportunities to dabble with educational apps or watch television more often is if they aren’t really as interested as other children their age in learning new things, such as the names of colors or the animals that live in the jungle.
5 Your Toddler Presses Too Hard On The Device's Screen
Science Daily points out that there’s new evidence that shows toddlers today often learn best when they have interactive media and parents that can help them make the connection between what their child sees on the screen with what they see in the real world that’s all around them.
Thanks to the interactive apps, many toddlers figure out pretty quickly that if they want to play a game, they have to press down on the screen lightly, so if they don’t do that, they definitely need more time to practice so that they don’t wind up accidentally breaking the device with their heavy-handedness.
4 They Struggle To Put Their Emotions Into Words
PBS writes that science has proven educational media with lovable characters that provide good role models for children to emulate (like Sesame Street) can help toddlers figure out how to put what they are feeling into words.
Every child at that age has to learn to put a word to their emotions so they can express what they’re feeling to others, but restricting their screentime with shows like Sesame Street or even Dora The Explorer can cause problems. For example, you might notice that your child is struggling more than usual with ways to express their emotions with the vocabulary they have.
3 Interactive Apps Confuse Them
Mashable notes that there are plenty of interactive apps that were designed for toddlers that won’t leave them feeling confused because there are way too many options on the menu or the rules of the game are just a little too complicated for them to fully understand just yet. For example, Little Stars allows toddlers to learn from age-appropriate content about the basics of math by using your fingers, the names of basic colors, etc.
You’ll know your toddler needs more time to fiddle around with tablets and other similar devices when even an age-appropriate app leaves them feeling really confused and they aren’t sure which way to use it.
2 They Are Wary Of Video Chats
The Atlantic writes that science shows that even infants can tell the difference between a video chat on a device like a laptop or a smartphone versus a video that appears on the television. These findings don’t really surprise me, as I saw how my boyfriend’s nephew responded when he recently video chatted with his sister and her child. The little guy had his eyes peeled on the screen and he giggled whenever my boyfriend made a silly face to entertain him.
Given how easy video chat is to use and how convenient it is to keep in touch with friends and family that live far away, it’s time to rectify things ASAP if you notice that your toddler is totally baffled by the entire concept of using a device to make a video call to someone.
1 There's No Impulse To Tap On The Screen
Fatherly writes that toddlers are naturally curious, and some easily pick up on the concept of tapping a screen in order to hear the next part of an interactive story or accessing an app that will teach them about the common animals that can be found at their local zoo.
Toddlers that don’t have as much screentime might struggle with their dexterity, since interactive apps and games can really help to boost their fine-motor skills as well as improve their impulse control, just like how a rousing game of tug-of-war with clear rules can help teach a rambunctious puppy bite inhibition and how to regulate their emotions.