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Why the iPad is a Bigger Threat to Children Than We Realize

March 01, 2016

Child_with_iPadWhat are the downsides to technological advances like the iPad?

These days it seems like you can’t open a newspaper or turn on the television without hearing about a new technological advancement taking place. While it goes without saying that these progressions have certainly improved our quality of life, it’s important to take a moment and consider the other side of the coin. Smartphones and laptops are convenient in countless ways, but they are also changing the way in which children learn and develop in today’s times. While we all appreciate the convenience our devices bring, it’s important to stop and think about what we are saying goodbye to in the process.

Psychologist Sue Palmer is just one of many mental health professionals picking up on the impact that iPads are having on children of all ages. After noticing a tablet computer being used as a “pacifier” when a child was having a tantrum, she began to wonder what the implications of using technology to soothe would have on future generations. On average, studies indicate that children are spending a staggering “five to six hours a day staring at screens”. While many have already picked up on the correlation between this fast-paced, tech-driven culture and a rise in Attention Deficit Disorder (with a significant rise in prescriptions for Ritalin), many did not realize that the use of iPads, iPhones, and other devices can actually impact a whole slew of other facets of life as well.

Research has shown that these technological tools are linked with all kinds of horrifying side effects such as an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, decreased coordination, sleep disorders, impatience, depression, insecurity, and decreased social skills, just to name a few. While in the past, children have had the chance to get fresh air, spend time interacting with others face-to-face, and use their imaginations and creativity to come up with new games, these days the solitary act of spending time in front of a screen has eclipsed all these old-school traditions.

Even the late Steve Jobs, a heavyweight in the world of technological entrepreneurship, didn’t permit his children to use iPads. Imagine the impact this could have had on childhood development if he had spoken out about this to the public! How many parent-child relationships could have been salvaged? How many new friendships at school could have been fostered? It’s heartbreaking to think about these all-too-often unmentioned side-effects of our digitally-saturated world.

While many tech enthusiasts may attempt to disregard these complaints as nostalgia-fueled dogma from a generation that cannot relate to today’s modern times, the issue is deeper than that. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics has stepped in, issuing a recommendation for “no screen-time for children under two and a maximum of two hours a day there-after”. Without a doubt, the fact that parents and researchers alike are waking up to this issue is encouraging, but for caregivers and educators, it still leaves them to question, “how can we make a difference?”

Fortunately, there are some clear and effective tips you can use to scale back the use of tablets and phones among the younger generation. By creating a strict set of rules and guidelines in the home and school setting in regards to how often children are allowed to use these devices, it will create boundaries and instill much-needed structure. If a child knows he has a maximum of one hour on the iPad per day, he can easily adhere to that since it is not vague and nebulous, but rooted in a specific and unambiguous amount of time. It also crucial to enforce these rules early on, so that children can adjust to these guidelines.

ParentChildReadingrsAnother way to keep children away from their phones and computers is to provide an appealing alternative. By planning exciting field trips and group activities on a regular basis, students and children at home will adjust to the new routine and even crave the fun of making friends and using their imaginations.

Even though it’s impossible to turn back the clock and live in an age where iPads and other similar devices don’t exist, by increasing our awareness of the potential side-effects, we can be more conscientious of how we incorporate them into the lives of young minds. The reality is, we now live in a world where a son or daughter can simply text their parents that they’re hungry, and wait for the food to arrive at their bedroom door. By encouraging family meals and face-to-face interaction, we can hold on to these age-old traditions and maintain strong bonds with our loved ones. If you would like to learn more about the impact iPads can have on children of all ages, visit us online today.

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