As kids plug in, parents should not tune out
Nowadays Santa gets scorned when he leaves a cheap gift or, even worse, a book! Children have been getting gifts that are increasingly expensive and inappropriate, and experts in child-development are concerned. Tablets and smartphones were usually reserved for adults and older kids in the past, but some as young as three have been unwrapping electronics.
Parents and game-developers are quick to defend these purchases, claiming that the available apps and games are educational and benefit the child. We’ve seen this before, though. Remember the backlash over Baby Einstein? Those videos were proven to be not only pointless, but also detrimental to infant viewers in some cases.
While studies are still preliminary, tablet use in young children is starting to show similar results to the Baby Einstein studies. Children need face-to-face interaction with their families, and staring at a screen just doesn’t cut it. Experts usually suggest that children limit time with screen-media to under two hours a day, in order to promote the proper development of language as well as foster social skills and relationships.
With all the apparent detriments, why are the numbers of young tablet-users steadily increasing?
Although the Kindle and iPad became popular during the Recession, and continue to remain popular despite a shaky economic recovery, parents have been quick to bite the bullet and buy their child a costly tablet to keep them out of their hair.
Despite being very expensive, tablets offer up a few benefits for busy parents: simplicity and lack of engagement. It’s a lot easier to press a button than sit and read to a child. Leaving a kid alone for hours on end with an iPad frees up more time to complete a growing to-do list, or just keep a fussy child from having a temper-tantrum at a dinner party.
Whatever the cited reason is, it’s not good enough for psychologists and other child-development experts. While technology is fine (and unavoidable) sometimes, parents need to incorporate moderation into their child’s life and replace some screen-staring with hands-on creative play and interaction.
So, does this information reflect a startling new trend that might fizzle out on its own or does it illustrate a new reality in the worlds of parenting and child-development?