Some video chatting can be healthy for young developing minds

Denise Dador Image
Thursday, November 23, 2017
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Some video chat interaction can be healthy for young developing minds, researchers say.

How much screen time is too much for your toddler or baby? Turns out, some types of screen time may actually be good.

New research suggests that live interaction like video chat can actually help little ones learn.

And the holidays are a good time for grandparents who live far away to video chat with family.

For two-and-a half-year-old Charlotte, seeing her grandmother brightens her day.

It's fun for her grandmother too, but should screen time be avoided for young kids?

Developmental psychologist Lauren Myers said not necessarily.

"There's a lot of research that suggests that when children can interact with somebody over a screen that they process that differently than if they're watching a prerecorded video or TV," she said.

Researchers studied 30 children ages 12 to 24 months who had video chat interaction six times over the course of one week.

Scientists asked the children to perform actions, taught them new words and reacted to them in real time.

After a week of video chats, the researchers also interacted face-to-face and noticed patterns among the older children.

Myers said, "Starting at about 17 or 18 months they would do things like prefer to play with the person they had video chatted with over the stranger."

Researchers also studied 30 children who only watched pre-recorded videos.

Myers says unlike the video chat group, these children did not form a relationship or learn new words or patterns when the partner was pre-recorded.

"And that back and forth pattern of interaction is something that's really crucial for early learning. That's what video chat preserves," said Myers.

The American Academy of Pediatrics initially discouraged screen use for children under two. The revised recommendations allow an exception for video chat interactions.

Researchers said parents should make sure grandma asks questions and responds appropriately just like she would in person.