Regulators and program developers disagree on whether young children should be banned from watching television or using tablets and smart phones.
France urges parents not to allow children under the age of three to watch television, and US pediatricians also prohibit the total ban on screen time for at least 18 months.
Carole Bienaimé-Besse, located in the French television regulator, the CSA, said Sunday that overexposing babies and toddlers to digital devices has become a “public health problem.”
“People realize that screens can cause addiction even in very young children and, in extreme cases, autistic problems, so-called virtual autism,” he said.
“Silicon Valley also knows that there are many educational applications for babies, but in the end the results are counterproductive,” Besse-Besse told AFP.
Studies show that “the children who are exposed to it are the ones who find it most in school,” he said.
France has banned its broadcasters from targeting children under three in 2008 and has blocked the launch of Fox’s BabyTV.
But some program officials insist that the bans do not work, especially with so many parents using television and child-care facilities.
‘Digital Wild, Wild West’
“It’s admirable, but probably not realistic” to try to ward off the screens of young children, said Alice Webb, who leads the children’s arm of the BBC, CBBC, CBeebies and Preschool Network.
“It’s a tide that can not be surpassed,” he told television officials at the MIPJunior meeting in Cannes on the Côte d’Azur on Sunday.
That said, the British public broadcaster is so concerned about digital parenting “Wild, Wild West” children who hold a world summit in December to try to bring leaders together on how they could be better served and protected.
“We need to have this conversation now because we do not want to tell us in 10 years,” What have we done to our children? “Webb told AFP.
He said the BBC has CBeebies two children ahead, “but we know that young children are watching. So we have to be realistic about this and consider the kids’ knowing that the TV or a tablet can be your “nanny”.
“I have games and applications that try to help children develop cognitive skills that a child needs two years. It is learning on screen and in the real world at the same time, it is not all or nothing and is moderation, “Webb said.
– The giants of social networks in the denial –
For older children, Webb said it was “impossible to think we can control what is online”.
He said the only answer was “to teach children what is and is not for them … how to develop a critical thinking and how to deal with when they see things they do not want”.
She said the BBC is creating a new online resource called “Own It” to help children cope with the dangers and challenges of social networks.
While Instagram, Twitter and Facebook claim that only teens over the age of 13 can enter their networks, Webb said that in the UK, 75% of children under 10 are in social networks.
Despite what the social media giants say, “the statistics suggest the opposite and find it more difficult to be behind this line,” Webb said.
Bienaime-Besse said that regulators need stronger powers so they can act against inappropriate online content in the same way they do with traditional broadcasters.
“I think it’s absurd that people like Facebook and Twitter are not regulated like other content providers.”
And she was skeptical that industry is regulated when it comes to young children.
However, “if you go to Silicon Valley, all the great executives of technology send their children to the Montessori schools without screens and only blackboards.
“And Apple’s Steve Jobs did not let his kids use an iPad.”
Beloved-Bess said that parents had to wake up “what we have in our hands. A child who can not defend himself must be protected from the damage that these tools so useful can bring.
“Children should become masters of technology by learning to code” instead of being slaves, he said.