Digital Parenting Tips for Families with Toddlers

Toddlers may not always be the focus of digital parenting topics, but they should be.  Children are getting their hands on devices at younger ages and parents can ‘begin as they mean to go on’ by introducing balance and moderation for children 0-3. 

We compiled a few of the questions that parents ask regarding digital parenting of toddlers with responses from our experts:

What is the most common challenge that parents and caregivers face with regards to screens?

  • Using a device as an electronic baby-sitter.
  • Not understanding the potential impact screens on their young children
  • Not using ‘co-watching’ practices with their children and allowing them to use screens alone.

What is the impact of screen use in the toddler years? 

  • Many sources, such as the National Institutes of Health, Zero-to-Three, and the AAP recommend no screen time at all for children until they are 18-24 months, except for video chatting with family members - an activity that is a ‘high quality’ use of screen time.
  • The best use of screen time is interactive or active viewing, rather than passive viewing for toddlers.

What apps and shows are best for toddlers?

  • The best shows are those where children can learn through play and have repetition.
  • The best apps combine simple, interactive play time with opportunities to learn.

At what age do parents need to enact parental controls on screen? 

  • All online users, including toddlers, run a risk of seeing inappropriate content and enabling age-appropriate experiences is important at this age.
  • Check the settings on any device your child may access, including your phone too. If your toddler can speak, they may also make requests of home assistants like adding things to a shopping list or cart.

Should we be concerned about creating a digital footprint for our children?

  • When we post pictures of our children on social media, we need to respect our children’s privacy - both today and for the future. Each photo you share only contributes to their digital footprint.
  • On average, by a child’s fifth birthday, more than 500 photos may have been posted online.

As you introduce devices and digital technology to your children, remember to act as a digital guardian and model behavior that matches your values and expectations of technology. Your child has the opportunity to gain so many benefits from being online as they grow older, just remember to help them out along the way - just as you would navigate anything else.

Dr. Elizabeth Milovidov

Host, The Digital Parenting Community, FB Group

Written by

Dr. Elizabeth Milovidov

Dr. Elizabeth Milovidov is a lawyer from California, a law professor in Paris, France and a Digital Safety Consultant in Europe. Using her European/American focus on Internet, technology and social media issues, she researches solutions to empower parents to guide their children in the digital age.  As Project Consultant, she will bring her experience in digital parenting, wellbeing and safety to FOSI's Good Digital Parenting.

She is the founder of, a website and community with resources and strategies for parents. Currently, she also provides support as an independent consultant for the Council of Europe (Children’s Rights and Education departments), Microsoft (Digital Safety) and e-Enfance (Child online protection). She is an international speaker on digital parenting and safety and her work has been featured in BBC, France 24, WSJ, Internet Matters and other media outlets and organizations focused on child online safety and digital parenting.