Tablet computer, a top holiday gift for children in 2013, is a cause of concern among health experts and pediatricians.
Experts think the gadget takes away activities from adult and non-electronic toys interactions that promote children’s brain development, adding that there is still no proof that the tablet benefits the development of babies and toddlers.
Furthermore, they linked too much tablet screen time to delayed social development and behavior problems among children.
Tablet Usage Must Be Limited
Since iPads have only been available for a little over three years, there is little research about it, according to Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital.
Christakis pointed out that educational apps and games can have positive effects if it engages a child and stimulates them to interact with the device.
However, if children just watch videos on the tablet, then the device has a limited ability to engage a child.
“The single most important thing for children is time with parents and caregivers. Nothing is more important in terms of social development. If time with the tablet comes at the expense of that, that’s not good,” Christakis said.
A pediatric psychologist from New York’s Montefiore Medical Center, Dr. Rahil Briggs, stated that screen time can slow language development. Thus, tablet usage must be limited for the youngest of children.
On the other hand, Briggs also mentioned that tablet usage can slow social development for older children. This is due to the solitary nature of the activities in the tablet.
Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends one to two hours of screen time a day for children over the age of two.
Educational Benefits of Tablets, Smartphones
In contrast, some experts believe that devices such as tablets and smartphones have educational benefits.
Jill Buban, dean of the School of Education at Post University Connecticut, thinks that children will feel more comfortable when they enter a classroom for the first time if they are exposed to technology.
But Buban suggests not more than 30 minutes of tablet usage due to the short attention span of most young children.
Scott Chambers, Sesame Street’s Workshop senior vice president for digital content, mentioned that some of their brand’s app inspires children “to put down their devices.”
Rather than having a kid interact directly with a tablet or smartphone, their new “Family App” provides opportunities for the parents to play with their children together.