Do you really want your kids using tablets? That seems to be the question everyone is asking about tablets. Tablets are relatively new to the market place and the research to determine the effects of using tablets on children’s brains has not really caught up yet. People have been asking questions about the effects of new technology on the brain for as long as new technology has been invented. There is evidence that some people thought that when the printing press was invented there was going to be to much information available for humans to absorb. The same form of this question came up just about 80 years ago with the advent of the radio. An article on Slate.com points out that,
The [radio] was accused of distracting children from reading and diminishing performance in school. … In 1936, the music magazine the Gramophone reported that children had “developed the habit of dividing attention between the humdrum preparation of their school assignments and the compelling excitement of the loudspeaker” and described how the radio programs were disturbing the balance of their excitable minds.
“Compelling excitement of the loudspeaker” … This almost seems silly now… but is it? There has been research done that proves that to much TV is bad for a developing child’s brain. Further research has been done that shows just 9 minutes of watching SpongeBob can have an adverse effect on a 4-year-old child’s attention span. Nine Minutes! How much worse is it for kids to sit around and play games and watch endless streams of cartoons for hours on end on a screen that is inches from their face? I wish I could get my kids to sit still long enough to listen to the, “compelling excitement of the loudspeaker.” Seriously, when I try to get my kids to listen to audio books, they really don’t want anything to do with it.
Was it silly for parents to worry about to much radio? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say yes. To much of anything, even a good thing, can be detrimental. If the child did nothing else but sit around and listen to radio programming every chance he got, it probably had a negative impact on his brain development.
The point here is that kids need to be spending time with other people, developing relationships with other people, or even playing pretend with dolls or trucks. Think about it, when a young child spends a lot of time on a tablet or in front of a TV, that is the thing the child is developing a relationship with. Connections are being formed in the brain that tell the child that the relationship with the technology is better than the relationship with a real human. Is that really what we want? I don’t think so. Tablets can’t love them back.
That doesn’t mean it is all bad. There are likely some apps and other media content out there that is good for the educational development of your toddler and/or preschooler. But how much time they spend on the device can have an adverse impact if they are learning to turn to a device when troubled or bored.
For more good info on this topic read this article from the AP.