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Can Toddlers Learn from Screens?

toddler lying on floor staring at tablet screen

Many of us have sat our toddlers down in front of a TV or a tablet, hoping they’ll learn something as we go about doing chores and finishing tasks. But is this actually an effective way to teach our kids? A new study from Vanderbilt University suggests not.

About the Study

Researchers at Vanderbilt University conducted a study in October 2021 to determine if toddlers can learn from screens. In order to do so, they had toddlers take frequent selfies with their family and then look through those photos on the parents’ smartphones. They also had the toddlers look through photos that would help them find a hidden toy in the room.

The researchers hoped this would teach the children that digital photos can represent reality. However, the opposite occurred. The toddlers struggled to realize that the digital photos represented a real situation and could help them find the hidden toy.

Simply put, toddlers don’t understand that digital media can represent reality.

So how do toddlers learn?

Of course, this doesn’t mean that screens are useless. Digital games can teach your child skills such as problem-solving, and educate them on certain subjects such as history or math. However, these benefits are most often seen with older children. Toddlers, meanwhile, find more success learning from face-to-face interactions.

Screen-time balance

Should you ban your toddler from ever looking at screens? Absolutely not. Toddlers can still have fun watching videos and playing games. However, if you want to help educate them, then finding a good screen-time balance is key. Make sure your toddler doesn’t spend all day in front of a screen. Instead, spend some one-on-one time with your toddler chatting, playing, reading, and more. Free play is especially beneficial for kids to learn and let off some steam.

Stuffed animals can be a great play companion that can also help you teach your toddler some lessons too! Look through our website here at The Zoo Factory to find the perfect stuffed animal friend for your child.

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