Need a babysitter? There’s an app for that. In fact, an estimate of seven hundred apps are designed specifically for iPad users under the age of three. The conception of touch screen technologies has become much more commonplace in our society. However, has it insidiously crept into our children’s world and become their teacher and companion? Do babies and toddlers as young as two years of age really gain any significant benefits with this electronic babysitter? Isn’t this the time when they should be mastering walking and crawling, rather than tapping and swiping? It is my opinion that introducing this technology to young children will create more harm than good.
iPad and other touchscreen devices offer children a way to experience technology at a significantly young age. Many parents claim these devices are incredibly intuitive and that it takes no time for babies, some as young as 8 months old, to start scrolling, pinching and flicking. However, is that how we envisioned the first year of our baby’s life? Were we picturing our little ones goo gooing and gagaing over a screen? If it’s simple and easy that we are after, perhaps we didn’t spend enough time considering the child’s essential needs before bringing him into the world. The first year of an infant’s life is a time when the child must come first. During this vital period, how your baby spends his time will make all the difference on the manner he perceives himself and the world. Despite how easy it may be for babies to interact with this device, it simply cannot recreate the three dimensional world in which children can experience, learn and build the skills necessary for their later years.
Most parents love their children, have the best intentions, and most are keen to do anything to give their children a head start. They believe that educational software or apps will boost their children’s intellect, motivate their love for learning and increase their child’s creativity. However, even the best apps have their limitations. They are incapable of simulating the natural wonders that are around us-- the smell, the sound and the texture that only the real world can deliver. What about the claim that education apps will make your babies smarter? Based on recent research, under the age of two, children do not gain many benefits or learn very much from electronic media. There is growing evidence to show that screen time will actually slow down the development of language and thinking skills (Tomopoulos 1105). No amount of screen time can replace the benefit of active and creative play-base opportunities in a social and caring environment. Due to the fact that very little research has been done on the impact of touchscreen technology, children using an iPad are essentially undertaking an involuntary experiment.
As parents, we constantly crave for more time in our busy days. For some, they love the fact that iPads can entertain their toddlers for hours on end....