I know one three year old who plays on his father’s iPhone all the time. He has found a game that he likes. His father is not too worried., But many parents are now questioning the use of these touch screen devices and wondering whether they should let their kids play with them.
The news is not all bad though. First, we are dealing with a completely different type of communication than television which is completely passive. The problem with TV was that the toddler had real difficulty in locating the moving images and concentrating on what was going on. Statistics show that he is liable to look away from the screen about 150 times in one hour.
In fact experts became alarmed and warned that no baby under the age of two should be watching TV at all and that younger kids time watching the box should be limited to two hours a day and no more. Then there are all the studies that showed that these kids who were addicted to video games had real problems in concentrating and staying focused afterwards.
Now the tablets, iPads and iPhones are different. One is that using the touch screen with the mere push of a finger pinpoints exactly the action or command. Contrast that with all the difficulties of coordinating using a mouse or playing a video game. It is that much simpler for a three year old.
There are many games and apps that can be played by kids. I know many parents who maintain that their kids’ vocabulary has improved with the use of these apps, with sometimes as much as a 25% increase.
Now there is no research as yet to show that all the time spent in the iPad is as bad as watching TV for hours or slaving over a video game. We are in uncharted territory here and it will be five years before we can assess what this activity has done to our delicate kids’ developing brains. That is a little scary in a way when we realise that our kids are mere guinea pigs.
Look at the figures which show that we are dealing with a majority of kids here. For example, the
There are real concerns that these devices will make our kids less sociable and that they will also become more sedentary. These go against the grain of raising happy and healthy kids who will turn into well balanced adults.
As usual, a little moderation will go a long way and there should be supervision and a wide range of activities to keep kids entertained. Once we make sure that is in place, then we can sleep more easily in our beds.