In his Wall Street Journal article, What Happens When Toddlers Zone Out With an iPad, Ben Worthen reports on the rise of iPad use with our youngest learners.
“The iPad and similar devices allow children to interact with technology at a younger age than ever before. Tiny fingers not yet old enough to manipulate a mouse or operate a videogame console can navigate a tablet touch screen.”
But is this actually good for little ones?
Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Hospital, says the more TV children watch during the formative years, the more likely they are to have attention problems. He feels the negative effect from iPads could be even more significant. The well-designed iPad encourages a child to keep playing. It offers rewards with exciting visuals at unpredictable times, stimulating a brain chemical associated with pleasure. Children are hooked.
Be aware. Be knowledgeable about how children really learn. Be ready to hand your child a book or a ball, not your hypnotizing hand-held device. Gaming is not an educational toy. There is no language. Your little one needs your conversation and your playful interaction to learn words. Read books, play games outside with balls, and build towers with legos. Let your child decide when a building is finished, not an iPad app.
Worthen and his wife are parents of a four year old. They stopped letting their son use the iPad. It put him in a trance-like state, and he wouldn’t respond, even to his name. The child doesn’t miss it at all.