What’s a Parent to Do with Touch Screens?

in Early Childhood in the News

baby and ipad

In April 2010, the iPad was released. The iPad’s bigger screen, as opposed to the smaller screen of the iPhone, allowed babies and toddlers to navigate iPad apps with ease.

In her article for the Atlantic, The Touch-Screen Generation, Hanna Rosen writes, “Researchers who study children’s media immediately recognized it as a game changer.” She reports that digital technology for our littlest ones is exploding. Developers want to produce games that are easy enough for babies to understand.

Interactive touch technology allows a toddler with a swipe of a finger to work magic. Without any parent help, a little one can knock a house down or fly a helicopter. For children, it’s magic. But it’s addictive too.

“American parents are becoming more, not less, wary of what it might be doing to their children. Technological competence and sophistication have not, for parents, translated into comfort and ease. They have merely created yet another sphere that parents feel they have to navigate in exactly the right way,” writes Rosen.

So what’s a parent to do?

Rosen adds that as of today, there is no body of research that proves the iPad will make your child smarter. In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics confirmed its policy on media for children under 2, “citing research on brain development that showed this age group’s critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant care givers.” Despite the fact that 90% of parents today say their little ones under 2 use media, the AAP still  “uniformly discourages passive media use, on any type of screen, for these kids.”

Be careful of big business developing a market for their wares. The child game developers say if little ones use the touch screen as toddlers, they’ll be savvy users of digital devices and absorb information faster. But perhaps the goals of big business shouldn’t trump what we know is best for our youngest minds.

This is what we know:

  • Parental interaction is critical for language development of very young children.
  • Imaginative play is essential for a little one’s emotional, social, and academic success.
  • Children learn best with hands-on learning and an involved parent.
  • Play and the profound learning that goes with it are the best for our youngest minds.

There is plenty of time for children to use media, but only one short year to be one, or one short year to be two.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons License Tia via Compfight

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