In a Q&A interview, Dr. Steiner-Adair discusses how the Internet and new technology are transforming American households–and child development
How worried should we be?
Very worried. But just as parents can say no to TV, they can say no to screens—except for homework. There is absolutely no reason that 8-year-olds need smartphones. Parents must understand that several aspects of their child’s development are at risk. Psychologically, children are losing the ability to reflect. Neurologically, we don’t know the effect of spending hours in front of a screen, but we do know that kids get addicted to stimulation from screens. Some can’t then tolerate the slow pace of reading books. I would say to all parents: if you’re joking about being addicted to your smartphone, why are you handing the addictive thing on to your child? Absolutely [say] no to all screens for a child’s first two years. Everything they need to grow into what they can be is available from their relationship to you and loving caretakers.