Playing games on a tablet can be good for two-year-olds

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Playing games on a tablet can be good for two-year-olds
Image credit: Flickr (CC) / Quinn Dombrowski

Playing video games has always been a controvercial topic for parents. According to a new study, two-year-olds can benefit from playing on a tablet.

Of course, this doesn’t mean to leave the kids to play for hours and hours. “There can be a big difference between using a tablet as a ‘babysitter’ and using a tablet to play engaging, educational games with the child,” says Silje Skaug, a PhD candidate at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) Department of Psychology to ScienceNordic.

Long story, short, parents can use tablets to play games together with their kids. The study checked out how kids and their mothers interact when playing together on a tablet.

The results shows mothers were more engaged and responded more favorably to their toddlers when playing online games than when watching TV or playing with dolls and cars. “Interactive media like tablets can actually stimulate and enhance interaction between adults and children,” Skaug said.

The problem is that traditional toys often can be boring for moms. “When we gave them a basket of toys to play with, the children were less engaged than with the other activities,” Skaug said. “The mothers were also considerably less engaged in the play, and less helpful to their child.”

As a result, kids and their mothers played less and has less interactions. One possibility is that they have already played with these toys a lot while the tablet and the games are new to them and more interesting.

“Passive TV viewing with the child was also not particularly interactive, the researchers found.  This is also supported by previous research, which shows that watching television weakens the quality of the interaction between children and adults compared to when the TV is turned off”, ScienceNordic adds.

When kids and mom played on a tablet, it was quite different. They had more interactions, were talking more and seemed closer. “Previous research has shown that it is good for children’s development that parents play with them, and that passive TV viewing can compromise a child’s interaction with their parents,” said Skaug.

“The number of words exchanged between children and parents is crucial for the child’s language development,” she said. So, play more with your toddlers.