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iPads and Kids: When Too Much is No Good

The iPad is one of the greatest inventions that came along for parents and kids.  As children develop, so do their imaginations.  It is the parent’s or caregiver’s job to help ‘spark’ that imagination.  That is when the iPad kicks in from being a story teller, flash card, language teacher, or just plain kids TV. The iPad has proven instrumental in helping kids learn and memorize while giving much needed down-time for parents.  However there has been growing echo that being too dependent on the iPad is not really such a good thing.


One advocate of the iPad (or tablets) failing as a tool is Paris child psychiatrist Serge Tisseron.  He worries that apps fail to teach children to properly apprehend three-dimensional space that is a key developmental milestone.

In the first two years of life the brain triples in size, synapses forming as young children experiment with objects they sniff, bite and throw.

Despite the iPhone and iPad’s much-lauded interactivity, Tisseron says they remain limited in terms of sensory experience: they can engage sight, hearing and touch — to an extent — but not taste or smell.

That’s where the simplest of toys, and baby games with no set rules, are crucial, says Texas paediatrician Ari Brown, lead author of a 2011 American Academy of Pediatrics report on screen use by children under two.

“There are some pretty good apps and activities that encourage problem solving, memory, ordering, sequencing — virtual versions of games we used to play as kids,” Brown said.

But “no app can replace the value in taking two blocks and figuring out how to stack them one on top of the other.”

Source: The ultimate babysitter? iPads for infants stir debate. Agence France-Presse
Thursday, April 26, 2012

While excessive television is discouraged for children, there has been no clear studies or advice for devices such as smartphones or tablets.  This is due largely to the fact that the smartphone and tablet phenomenon in relation to the Apps that are so popular with kids is rather new (1-2 years) and thus warrant more time for research.

When Too Much of a Good Thing

I have been evangelizing on the uses of the iPad for education and teaching the next generation – this includes toddlers (2-3 Year olds) and preschoolers (3-5 year olds).  However, this is not to say that the iPad should be the primary device that’s left to the kids, in effect letting the iPad be our babysitter.

In the article “iPads Are not a Mirable for Children With Autism” Daniel Donahoo notes:

The point I am trying to make is that if the iPad is to be a useful tool in supporting children with autism to achieve their developmental goals and become the capable and fascinating adults we know they will be then it is how we use the iPad to support development that is most important — and the miracle there, as it always has been, is the parents and professionals who work with children with autism.

Yep, no surprises there, the iPad and whatever apps we use are merely aids that help us.  Parents and primary caregivers are still an integral part in making that miracle work.

My Thoughts

I am the father of a 2 year old and a 4 month old respectively.  This topic is specifically relevant, as I have no shortages of electronic devices such as tablets and smartphones lying around the house.  My 2 year old has never been interested in TV as he has the option of interactive apps and customized TV (via Youtube).

While I think that the iPad is a great tool, it should not be a MAIN tool in accompanying and teaching children.  Nothing replaces the parent or primary caregiver as the babysitter/teacher/playmate/role model for kids.

In an age where many parents have to work and leave the care of their young ones to others this may be challenging. However, I think its possible to replace quantity with quality in such cases.  Even when iPad’s are used for learning, discovery, or even as a distraction I think it’s a good point to do these things together with any child.

It is my personal opinion that children need a credible role model growing up, and it is during the early years that the adult in charge can forge the bonds that build that basis of being a part of the role model.

I, for one, am certainly trying the best that I can, after all, that’s what its all about, each generation trying the “best that they can” so that the following generations get better.

About RG. Chew

RG. Chew is a pundit on all things related to the tech industry and enjoys keeping taps on the fast pace of technology today. He is constantly trying to bring a fresh look (or relook) into the latest tech news and happenings for his readers

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3 Responses to iPads and Kids: When Too Much is No Good

  1. Anna Fox May 6, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    Hi,
    totally agree, as parents are responsible for best apps for kids (not only pre-scholol). This is why I have self published a book on best apps to educate kids.

    Tomorrow – this book is free of charge on amazon.com !

    Givt it a chance and then read this article again.

    Direct link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007QF9YZY
    Best,
    Anna

  2. Michel June 9, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    I have upgraded just now and iPhone app feels sapnpy. It took a while to load the app the first time (splash screen stayed on for about 30 seconds) but after that, no issues to report . yet!(themrx has made 13 comments)

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