Opinions

Toddlers and Technology

by ROBERT MIRANDA

Nearly half of all children under the age of 4 are using cell phones and iPads; however, current studies show that the risks of using these devices may be high in the long run.

Today, devices such as iPads, tablets, cell phones and laptop computers are ubiquitous. Their use is so much a part of society that seeing young children with their eyes glued to a small screen has become a common sight in restaurants, stores and other public places.

According to dailymail.co.uk, more than 42 percent of children begin using iPads before the age of 4. These devices can be useful in teaching children skills, such as reading and writing; however, most are used for viewing videos, thus encouraging passive mental function with little thinking involved.

According to Tovah Klein, director of the Barnard College Centre for Child Development, children under the age of 2 should not be using these devices at all. Klein mentions that these children need to be surrounded by tangible objects and to use their senses; she also notes that screens can dramatically impair motor and sensory function.

According to the New York Times, brain function is extremely high before the age of 4, when language and speech are being developed. Therefore, children should be practicing words and other skills to prepare for preschool or kindergarten, ideally with tangible books and paper instead of screens. Furthermore, they should learn to speak the language fluently from actual teachers and family members, not from videos on a tablet or phone.

TIME magazine notes that over the last decade, the number of children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has jumped 15 percent. This correlates with a 20 percent increase in “screen time,” the number of hours that a child spends using a technological devices.

Cell phones, iPads and computers are very useful gadgets, and indeed can serve as excellent learning aids and entertainment for little ones. However, constant exposure to distracting, intangible media at a young age may result in severe repercussions in the future.

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