Is There a Real Baby Sitter in the House?
Monday, March 30th, 2015
In The Face Time Baby Sitter, Jennifer Saranow Schultz touts the notion of FaceTime as a virtual babysitter. While at first the idea of the iPad qua babysitter seems to be a tantalizing for young parents (I have 4 daughters who fit this category), at second blush it is downright alarming. First, while not nearly as passive as watching a video, FaceTime communication should not be mistaken for quality human interaction. The humans involved cannot physically connect, and do not command eye contact or conversation outside of a very limited (6-8 inch?) range.
Second, it provides a false sense of security. If mom is in the laundry room, and Grandma is chatting with her grandchild or reading him a book, there is nothing to prevent that toddler or pre-schooler from putting the iPad down and wandering around the house unsupervised. The iPad is not everywhere and cannot see everything. And third, young children are sensorimotor learners, who develop skills by physically engaging with their environments, not by watching screens. Cooking, laundry and putting away groceries are opportunities for hands-on learning about categorizing, size, shape, weight, sequencing; experiencing a variety of textures; and developing strength and coordination. My advice: take advantage of FaceTime to visit with far flung relatives as a parent-child team. Have Grandma read Junior a book while snuggling in Mom or Dad’s arms to foster a close warm connection that engages more of the senses. Leave babysitting to an onsite human