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I've read that the AAP says that TV is bad for children under 2, but is video chatting (e.g., Skype or Google Hangouts)?

My wife & I both have family that is out of state. The grandparents love being able to see our son, and we thought it would be a good way to get to know their voices & faces.

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I think TV and chat are different because most TV shows go at a pace that is too much for kids to process properly at the younger ages. If they are old enough to actually interact with the family "on the other side of the screen" they are interacting - something they really can't do with TV characters. Interested to see what you find out about studies regarding the flashing lights etc. though. Great Question! –  balanced mama Dec 11 '13 at 5:29
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If video chatting is the only way that your child had to remain in contact with his grandparents the question maybe can reformulate: Is better that the child never see his grandparents, rather then stay few minutes in front of a video? In this case I won't have any doubt on whatever is the right answer. Moreover is correct to private your grandparents of the possibility of seeing their grandchild? –  amorvincomni Dec 12 '13 at 13:30

2 Answers 2

The arguments against television are based on providing too much stimulus to a young mind, so putting a toddler in front of a blinking, flashing, huge screen for an hour is not recommended.

A ten-minute Skype call on a laptop screen is different because the image doesn't change very much. I think that this is similar to watching a person work at a computer. So I think video chatting is just fine, within limits.

We also do Skype video calls with the grandparents that live in other countries. The kids (age 1-4) are generally disinterested most of the time, or they participate for a few minutes.

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If I remember well, I read in a book in French called "L’enfant et les écrans" that what is actually discouraged is to let kids below 3 face a screen alone.

It ok to watch TV, play tablet or phone games together for a reasonable amount of time, as long as it is done together. Obviously a Skype session fit very well with this advice, so it is 100% ok.

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All of the recent recommendations I've seen indicate that all television should be avoided before the age of 2, regardless of whether an adult is watching or not. Supervising TV time before 2 doesn't mitigate the problems caused by the rapidly changing scenes, and the pace of most shows are too fast for children that age to follow, essentially resulting in the child watching a series of flashing lights. Furthermore, watching TV with a child results in far less active interaction between the two of you, and active interaction is far more beneficial. –  Beofett Dec 12 '13 at 13:18
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onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2958.2011.01413.x/… "These findings suggest that TV co-viewing produces a relatively detrimental communication environment for young children, while shared book reading encourages effective mother–child exchanges." –  Beofett Dec 12 '13 at 13:19
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Mh, I also hate TV for myself and my kids, we do not have TV at home. Ads for kids is a crime against humanity, if you ask me. However everyone is free and I think advices about kids should not be culpabilizing parents, therefore the "TV together > TV alone". –  Guillaume Dec 13 '13 at 2:31

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