Tempting as it is when you need precious time to make supper or talk on the phone, we strongly advise against too much use of tablets and smartphones for the under-fives.
This isn’t because we are luddites who believe that technology is the Devil’s work. Far from it. A good phonics app will certainly help with letter sounds, as will singing along with a counting song on YouTube. But use them sparingly.
Until children can turn an object over in their hands they can’t turn it over in their minds. They need to handle things first and taste, smell, touch them. Children, like adults, can too easily become passive consumers of content rather than constructors of their own knowledge, working the answers out for themselves.
The important thing is to encourage a healthy attitude towards technology, a confidence and willingness to learn, and the self-control to know when it is not appropriate or necessary. Start with the little things you use in everyday situations – using the remote control, switching off lights and pressing the button at the pelican crossing – so they understand how technology can help them.