Limiting screen time for children and parents

(WBAL) It is Screen-Free Week, a time when parents and children are encouraged to unplug and enjoy the other wonders of life. It has become an international movement to swap digital entertainment and explore life beyond the screen.

For some families, there seems to be a digital divide even with children as young as toddlers.

Mornings in the Abrams household are always busy. With two young children and two working parents, getting out the door isn’t easy, so it’s not unusual for Nicolas, 6, to practice math on his iPad.

“He loves it. It’s one of his favorite things to do, especially for his educational stuff, and it’s a great thing for him,” said Nicolas Abrams, the boy’s father.

The tablet has been helping the young Nicolas learn for years but putting a tablet in his tiny hands came with concerns for the Fells Point couple.

“Personally, I didn’t want any games. If there was going to be something on the phone, then it needed to be educational,” said Leah Abrams, the boy’s mother.

Eventually, games crept their way onto the screen, but there are limits.

Raffi Bileck, a family therapist and director of the Baltimore Therapy Center, said he believes toddlers should be learning about the world and that tablets get in the way.

“It’s just not necessary for what we want to accomplish with our kids,” Bileck said. “There’s lots of education value on the apps and tablets, and all kinds of things you can come up with, but academic education is not what we want to give our toddlers. They don’t need to know how to count. They know how to count in whatever time frame they’re ready, and it’s quite easy to teach them without an iPad.”

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