Last week, we dubbed theiPad the new babysitter
. As of right now, 52% of kids between ages five and eight, 39% between two and four, and 10% of infants have figured out how to swipe and pinch their way through a variety of touch screen activities.
Obviously, parents and experts are starting to worry.
A recent article
in the Wall Street Jounal
points out that, while a certain amount of research has been done on the effects of television on children, the impact of devices like the iPad are still unclear. One reason for this may be that children have a much easier time engaging with tablets than TV screens. Studies have shown that young children are unsure of where on the TV to look.
On the one hand, touch screen devices have been shown to help young children learn. For example, one study showed significant improvements on vocabulary tests by children as young as three who used an educational iPod Touch app.
The trouble is that scientists are unsure what the long-term effects of tablets use may be. Beyond that, some parents have seen anecdotal evidence of tablet addition issues in their children. While the science on this is still at least somewhat unclear, these issues have led some parents to take iPads from young children.
Meanwhile, in Britain, one doctor is fighting a slightly older techno-bogeyman: television. Everyone knows that TV makes you blind, fat, and stupid, but Dr. Aric Sigman has taken things a step further and accused parents who set their children in front of the television of neglect.
According to the Daily Mail,
his work and other studies links television to obesity, inattentiveness, declining test scores, and other issues. He plans to explain at a pediatrics conference that many adults and children overuse technology, even if they aren't addicted to it.
Beyond that, Sigman will also push to keep TVs out of children's bedrooms and to prevent kids under three from watching any TV. Other children can have rationed "screen time."
Of course, alarmist calls against technology
are nothing new. Parents, use your best judgment.