Q: I recently read the New York Times article discussing young children using high tech devices unsupervised before they turn 4. Admittedly, I give my three-year-old daughter my iPad to play with on long car trips and I’ll occasionally hand her my smartphone while in line at the grocery store (she usually melts down otherwise). I always set up the app or TV show for her before I hand her the device, but I am now wondering if this practice is bad for her. Should I only give her a device when I can sit with her and monitor exactly how she uses it?
~ Device Denial, San Francisco, CA …
Apple’s iPhone and iPad technology has revolutionized communication. The way millions of Americans interact with media, personal contacts and the Internet is now largely funneled through an Apple shaped logo. But are these machines so influential they could shape the mental and emotional development of young users?
Because these devices are so new, there’s not enough hard scientific data to know for sure. But the fact that more than half of the young children in the United States now have access to an iPad, iPhone or similar touch-screen device means the time to ask these questions is now.
So that’s exactly what Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Worthen did. Worthen spoke with many childhood development experts, including Michael Rich, MD, MPH, director of Boston Children’s Center on Media and Child Health, to find out how touch-screen technology is affecting the development of millions of young users. Here’s a brief video describing what he learned.
Until more data is collected, the scientific community remains split on how touch-screen technology affects kids. But there is one thing that they all agree on: parents know their children best and should be the final decision-maker on if and when this type of technology is appropriate in their house.
Does your child use an iPad, iPhone or tablet? If so, are you pleased or worried about her reaction to its interactive nature? Let us know in the comment section or our Facebook wall.
Read the entire Wall Street Journal on toddlers and iPads. Dr. Rich participated a live chat on the topic with parents on The Wall Street Journal’s website. Follow the conversation here: Should Your Toddler Use a Tablet?
You may also enjoy these stories on how touch-screen technology has shaped the lives of some of our patients and their families:
Art, music, games!
The above list reads more like a school fair itinerary than an occupational therapy session, but at Children’s Hospital Boston some patients with cerebral palsy recently had a chance to use virtual painting, electric pianos and video games as part of their OT. What’s more, it’s all done on a giant touch screen computer, reminiscent of a huge iPad.
The demo was well received by both patients and clinicians, and is another example of how Children’s and its collaborators are incorporating new and exciting technology into everyday care. To learn more about the three-foot wide tabletop touchscreen and how it turned OT time into play time for these lucky kids, click over to Vector for the full story.