How do iPads affect development and behavior in young kids?

For those of us who have been on an airplane when a little kid starts screaming so loud you can literally feel the piercing decibels in your body, the iPad can be a sanity-saver for everyone on board. Parents have resources to keep their kids calm and quiet more than ever before. But how does […]

For those of us who have been on an airplane when a little kid starts screaming so loud you can literally feel the piercing decibels in your body, the iPad can be a sanity-saver for everyone on board.

Parents have resources to keep their kids calm and quiet more than ever before. But how does mobile and interactive media change the way kids develop mentally and learn to self-regulate?

Researchers, who published commentary on the subject in the journal Pediatrics, looked at how these devices play a role in the lives a kids under that age of 30 months. This age group is generally under-studied when it comes to these devices – though previous research has determined that children in this age range cannot learn from television and videos as well as they do with real-life interactions.

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The researchers wanted to explore whether or not using these devices as a way to distract and calm kids is detrimental to their social-emotional health.

“It has been well studied that increased television time decreases a child’s development of language and social skills. Mobile media use similarly replaces the amount of time spent engaging in direct human-human interaction,” explained corresponding author Jenny Radesky, clinical instructor in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics at Boston University School of Medicine and a former fellow in pediatrics at Boston Medical Center.

“These devices also may replace the hands-on activities important for the development of sensorimotor and visual-motor skills, which are important for the learning and application of math and science,” added Radesky, according to Futurity.

There isn’t enough data currently to really determine how or if use of devices is detrimental to children under the age of 2, but as the researchers point out, face-to-face interaction is very important for development at that age.

“At this time, there are more questions than answers when it comes to mobile media. Until more is known about its impact on child development quality family time is encouraged, either through unplugged family time, or a designated family hour,” says Radesky.

[Photo from Flickr user Lynn]