Is screen time destroying social and emotional development?

March 20, 2016 Published by


Play-Diet-Leaflet-Front-e1405631632184-700x1042Tablets have taken over play time for many children - in fact, one in three kids now have their own device . This technology is still new so, understandably, many parents worry about the risks surrounding tablet and smartphone use.

It has been suggested, for example, that the lack of human interaction when children are absorbed in a screen can interfere with the development of social and emotional skills, such as empathy.

As with everything however, moderation is the key. At Fundamentally Children we encourage a balanced ‘play diet’, a practical approach that gives your child the chance to experience all of the different types of play. Excessive screen time can affect development if it takes away from time spent doing other activities, but a little each day is fine and can even be beneficial.


How can screen time support social and emotional development?

Despite some arguments that screen time is damaging to social and emotional skills, the right apps can actually support these skills. The Good App Guide can offer examples of such apps, but would stress that these must be used alongside other activities in order to develop social and emotional skills in children and will not do so alone.



  1. Get Well Soon Hospital with Dr Ranj (18 months - five years)Get Well Soon with Dr Ranj Recommended by Good App Guide

Children can help Dr Ranj from CBeebies care for patients at the Get Well Soon Hospital, encouraging empathy and nurturing.


  1. Duckie Deck Sharing (two - four years) G_App_G_Sharing_R

Learning to share is really important for little ones, but isn’t an easy skill to teach! This app features a collection of mini-games which encourage sharing, taking turns and team work. Players either cooperate with virtual children or pass the tablet around friends and siblings to complete the games.


  1. Toca Boo (three – five years)G_App_G_Toca_Boo_A

This fun app sees children help a little girl called Bonnie float around her house, hiding and jumping out at people to scare them. This helps them learn about fear and builds confidence in little ones who are easily scared



  1. Karisma Kidz Moodville (five – eight years) G_app_G_Karisma_Kidz_A

Moodville is an app designed specifically to help children understand and communicate the wide range of emotions they are experiencing, all through fun games and rewards.



  1. We Discover Wildlife: Forest Quest (five - ten years) We Discover Wildlife : Forest Quest Recommended by Good App Guide

Our testers loved this board game app. It encourages children to play together, helping develop social skills such as taking turns, communication and friendly competition.



While apps are in no way a replacement for human interaction, they can be an engaging and fun way to teach children about a variety of valuable skills, when part of a balanced play diet.

More apps for personal, social and emotional development 

What is personal, social and emotional development? 

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This post was written by Anna Taylor

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