Childcare experts caution parents over kids’ tablet time


With the majority of ankle-biters out there able to deftly maneuver her or his way around an iPad better than most of us older folks (sad, but true), it’s simply remarkable how increasingly comfortable kids nowadays are with the rapidly expanding amount of technology out there. And while this is certainly a good thing, some experts are beginning to weigh in on the potential harm overexposure to devices like tablets can have on children.

Recently TabTimes reported on a number of child welfare experts. Speaking at a panel in New York entitled “Baby Brains and Video Games,” parents were warned of the negative effects overexposure to tablets may cause children, and urged to monitor and control how often their children use these increasingly ubiquitous devices.

Speaking at the conference, editor of Children’s Technology Review, Warren Buckleitner, acknowledged the recent phenomenon of children spending more and more time on their tablets. “It’s a topic that really emerged in the last two years,” explained Buckleitner. “You can’t pull it from their hands,” explaining the growing amount of time and attachment placed on tablets such as the iPad.

While none of the experts went so far as to suggest parents stop letting their children use tablets — or eliminate their exposure to new technology altogether — Rosemarie Truglio from the children’s TV producers Sesame Workshop advocated for a balance approached to time spent with smart devices like iPads and iPhones.

Other panelists like Lisa Guernsey, author of “Screen Time: How Electronic Media – From Baby Videos to Educational Software – Affects Your Young Child,” proposed examining the long-term effects of tablet use with children.

Perhaps easier said than done, Buckleitner cautioned parents over using their iPads as “digital babysitters,” which according to a recent study by market research firm, Nielsen, appears to be a growing trend among parents.


Of course, what kids are actually using their tablets for is worth examining. According to Nielsen, 77-percent of children under 12 growing up in households with a tablet device use it for downloading games, 57-percent use it for educational purposes, while only 15-percent use their tablets to communicate with family and friends, and another 41-percent use it as entertainment at restaurants or events. The last two statistics seems to echo concerns Guernsey’s has over long-term tablet usage when she begged the question on children’s seemingly growing inability to “focus on a conversation, [and] not look at a screen for 30 minutes?”

For many, it’s an interesting problem unique to the 21st century. And while it might be difficult to imagine, many of us grew up in a time where there were no computers, Internet, or smart devices. Instead, children were forced to derive entertainment from more traditional sources like books and outdoor activity. Nowadays, kids can simply access a wealth of entertainment all from the palm of their hands without the need for physical interaction. That’s not to say that this influx of technology is bad, but it does seemingly pose new concerns given how relatively new the technology is.

More than anything, though, it seems like experts are simply urging caution and a balanced approach to time spent on devices like tablets when it comes to children. And since we still don’t know the long term effects, that might not be such a terrible idea.


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