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iPad and iPhone Games For Toddlers: Harmful or Helpful?

We’ve all heard that too much TV for your child is a bad thing. But how many of us have stopped to think why this is so? Our child looks fine, happy; there seems to be no negative effect.

Is your child bored but you have to make dinner? Easy, Sesame Street is on. Need to get ready for work? Barney what would I do without you?

But even what seems to be the most educational, mind-stimulating TV shows and videos can be potentially harmful to toddlers. According to the AAP, these educational programs benefit children over the age of two years, but, because children under age two are at a different stage of cognitive development, they do not benefit. Most children under the age of two do not understand the information presented to them from these shows or pay attention to them. Studies have found that these TV shows and videos have a short-term effect on language skill development for children under 2. Children who watch more TV are more likely to exhibit language delays.

It appears there is a correlation between TV viewing and delays in language development in young children, but is TV turning our kids’ brains to mush? Research suggests that it’s what TV is replacing that is the problem. When young children are planted in front of the TV for hours at a time, they aren’t interacting with their parent. When the TV is on, the parent and child aren’t talking or playing, which is crucial to children’s development at this age.

But while some parents have taken the advice and limited their children’s viewing time, there is another crime in the making: iPhones and iPads.

I work in retail, and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t see a flustered parent at check out who handles their child’s whining, or emotional outbursts by handing over their iPhone to them. It’s like a high-tech pacifier.

So the question I have is: are iPhones and iPads for toddlers just as bad for them as as TV? Indeed the two are different. However, apps like Peek-a-Zoo or Elmo Loves ABCs are more interactive and engaging than TV shows or videos, which can be considered a more passive experience.

But TV and smart devices do have something in common; they both take away from engaging activity between parent and child, and along with it, the benefits children under two gain from the interaction.

What is your opinion on toddlers using iPhones and iPads?

 

Sources:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2011/10/22/141591126/will-smartphones-and-ipads-mush-my-toddlers-brain

http://www.npr.org/documents/2011/oct/aap_media.pdf

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