There are several school of thoughts about this topic. And many parents have expressed strong opinions with regard to this. Before I share my two cents about it, I think it is best to read this article from The Telegraph News. It is about a British study on over 700 families, that tries to establish the link between touchscreen devices and sleep in babies and toddlers. The article shows some interesting points (both positive and negative) for babies and toddlers exposed to iPads.
Researchers at Birkbeck University of London, and King’s College London questioned 715 parents about their child’s daily touchscreen use and sleep patterns and they found some interesting points:
1. Babies’ sleep and brain development may be harmed by the use of iPads.
According to the article, every hour spent by babies and toddlers on these gadgets is equivalent to 16 minutes of less sleep. Sleep is very important at this stage in a child’s life. This is the formative stage, wherein sleep is essential for the development of the brain.
2. Babies and toddlers spending more time on these gadgets sleep less at night.
For every hour spent on these technologies, they sleep 16 minutes lesser in each 24 hour period. The longer the time they are exposed to these gadgets, the more sleeping time is lost.
Researchers also mentioned that children who seek longer time on these gadgets might be more likely to suffer from conditions such as hyperactivity. They urge parents to be cautious in the use of these gadgets.
Are there benefits for toddlers that use touch screen devices?
It is noteworthy though that use of touch screen devices can also provide some benefits to toddlers. It actually helps them develop motor skills earlier. The active scrolling on these screens and performing interactive tasks, boosts motor activity, as opposed to just watching a material passively with no interaction.
There is another interesting article about this topic from ABCNews. Click the link to the article here.
In the article, they featured a story about the Klaus family. This family have toddlers who are obsessed with their iPads, and the article showed what happened when these items were taken away from them during a certain period of time.
ABCNews team were also invited by Barnard College’s Center for Toddler Development, where they were to observe behind a two way mirror, kids playing with regular toys versus the iPad, and how the kids reacted when the iPads were taken away from them. Some of the effects of taking away the iPads were these:
1. Taking away the ipads from the toddlers resulted for them to fight a lot more.
This happened with the toddlers in the Klaus family. However, this is also a good thing according to some psychologists, because sibling squabbles are part of healthy socialization
2. Kids are more verbal, creative and social after the gadgets were taken away.
By taking the iPads from them, they resorted to imaginative play. They were playing and more engaging with each other. This help develop their creativity and sociability, and this even improves their vocabulary.
The director of Barnard’s Toddler Center found out that toddlers were more active when the iPads were taken away from them. He noted that parents who resort to iPads to pacify their kids are not letting their kids learn how to naturally calm themselves down. By doing this, kids will not learn the skills to calm down from a tantrum.
After reading the articles, I took notes of some very important information. It is not advisable to just give kids iPads to pacify them. We are not helping them in the long run. They will not learn natural skills in calming themselves down. They will always have the need for an object or something to pacify them.
And therefore, I am opposed to using iPads as toddler pacifiers. However, I also appreciate the benefits iPads can give toddlers. We only just have to take caution. We have to set some rules, so that they do not get addicted and be dependent on these gadgets. This way they can still be well adjusted toddlers, wherein they can go on with their days and be happy with just regular toys, and appreciate natural play with siblings and peers. At the same time,giving them also an opportunity to play with these touch screen devices knowing they also get to develop other motor and cognitive skills with its use.