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Babies Need Real Interaction

When my daughters were toddlers, they became wide-eyed with wonder whenever they could make something happen on a screen. Back then, just 10 years ago, they were pressing buttons on the TV remote or, with my help, using a computer mouse. Today’s interactive touchscreens eliminate middle-man mom. They bring the dazzle even closer. It’s a thrill to watch babies and toddlers discover what happens under their chubby little fingers with just a touch. 

But what are they learning exactly? With my girls, the experience definitely seemed more stimulating than simply watching. They were experiencing “interactivity.” And aren’t we taught to believe that interactivity is a good thing? But look under the hood of interactivity, and it gets complicated. Does all interactivity equate with the one-on-one social interaction that science tells us is so important for brain development? Or are these little tots just learning about cause-and-effect? 

To read the full article, see "Babies Need Real Interaction" in the New York Times.

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