Babies could only see family close to them, in our grandparent’s time. If their parent had to travel away for work, then they went without seeing their infant. They may have had family they barely knew because they lived far away. Today technology has closed that gap. Family from any corner of the globe can interact with the baby through video apps such as FaceTime. A lot of families are taking advantage of this.
In a survey of 200 parents in the Washington DC area, 85 percent of parents stated that their infant had used FaceTime at least once. Thirty-five percent of those polls said that their babies used the app on a weekly bases.
The question is, do babies understand FaceTime? Do they know that it’s a friend or relative on the other side of the screen? Is FaceTime even a healthy activity for babies to participate in? The answer is yes. Facetime is not only good for babies to use but can help build relationships and cognitive development.
1. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports FaceTime.
The American Academy of Pediatrics had a no screen time stance when it came to babies. They have changed their guidelines now to include that it is ok for babies to use video apps such as FaceTime. This is different than other screen time activities, as it helps establish relationships.
2. Your baby can safely look at a phone screen.
Most screens today only emit light instead of radiation. A phone might emit some electromagnet radiation. The phone would have to be right against the baby’s head for a long time to cause any damage. Screens are safe for a baby to use.
3. Babies can understand FaceTime.
A newborn is likely only to pay attention to the voice coming out of the screen. Once a baby grows older, then it is more likely to interact with the person on the other side of the screen. By six months, a baby can tell the difference between a static screen playing a show, and a face time screen where an adult is interacting with them.
Do babies understand that it is a real person talking on the other end? That is still up for debate. It does help when a caregiver is there to explain to them what is going on. A caregiver might tell them that its grandma, but that grandma is more than a face on a screen might not occur to them. When one parent asked their toddler where their grandparents lived, she pointed to her tablet. To the toddler who only saw her grandparents on FaceTime, it made sense that was where they must live.
Other studies have shown that a baby can tell who a person is on FaceTime if they had been introduced to that person in real life before. For instance, babies were able to calm down when they saw their mother on face time as opposed to just hearing her voice on the phone.
4. Babies understand FaceTime better than talking on a phone!
Babies and toddlers have a difficult time reacting to the phone because they are preverbal. They can nod their head, make gestures, or blow a kiss, but the person on the other side of the phone will not be able to see it. A baby might also have difficulty understanding what the voice on the phone even is.
On a video chat, the baby can see who is talking. The baby and the person on the other side of the screen can read each other’s body language and interact accordingly. If the baby, for instance, waves hello, the grandparents can wave hello back at them.
5) FaceTime can help build your baby’s vocabulary.
A study published in the journal of Developmental Science showed that face time conversations could help build a baby’s vocabulary. In the study, they took 60 children ages 12- 25 months and had them watch a video for a week. For half of the children, the video was a face time interaction where the same partner tried to teach them words by interacting with them. The rest of the children watched an educational video. In the end, all the children could remember some of the words that they had learned.
6) FaceTime helps strengthen and build relationships.
Another benefit of the study mentioned above was that the children who faced timed recognized their face time partner. The children preferred that person over strangers. Face time can be a great tool to bond babies with grandparents or another family that lives far away. The more the baby and the other person interact with each other, the more real they become. There are many ways that you can interact with the baby on the screen.
- Blow air kisses at the baby.
- Wave hello and goodbye
- Let the infant give you a snack, and you pretend to eat it.
- Tell bedtime stories
- Sing Songs
- Get at eye level with the baby
- Be consistent and face time with the baby often.
- Use mobile because a computer could be too distracting for the baby.
7. FaceTime helps teach babies about technology.
Your baby lives in a world filled with technology. A world that baby will someday have to navigate. Face-time can be a tool to help your infant understand technology. Explain to the infant if something goes wrong and grandmother freezes, or the call drops. Keep the explanation simple. Tell the infant there must be a problem with the internet, and you can try to talk to grandma later.
Another way that FaceTime helps infants navigate technology is that you can show them how to make calls. It’s easy to set it up so that if you hit a few buttons, you’re calling your grandparents. It’s important always to monitor your kids when they are on the phone or tablet. If you’re not careful, grandma might be getting strange calls from your infant early in the morning.