Children's Health in the iPhone Era

Children's Health in the iPhone Era

Mike Tyson
Oct 22, 2010

Most of us have seen it first hand. For whatever reason, the child is crying or becoming extremely discontent with the situation. Out comes the iPhone or iPad and all of a sudden, all worries are gone. The kid is consumed with the device, effortlessly navigating their way through multiple apps in order to please his or herself. Because of this, these new mobile devices may appear to be the almighty saving grace for childcare. But some experts argue that it is quite the opposite.

This past summer I had the pleasure of vacationing with some extended family. There was a 1.5 year old along with a 3 year old. Both fluently interacted with the language of the iPhone and iPad. Whether they wanted to navigate to their favorite barnyard app to listen to some animal sounds, or watch some Pink Panther Youtube videos, they could do it with ease, without any adult interaction. To say I was impressed with their capabilities is an understatement. And of course there is something to be said, not only for the children's intelligence, but also of the incredible intuitive designs that make this interaction possible.

A little while ago we asked you when is the best time to introduce technology to your child. And many responded with their own opinions on the matter. Well the New York Times recently wrote an article that contains, along with some cute pictures of kids and tech, some scientists who argue that technology's influence on children may not be as beneficial as one might have thought. Firstly, they cite the American Academy of Pediatrics who dictates that a child should not be introduced to television until the age of 2.

Jane Healy, an educational psychologist argues against the benefits of the iPhone/iPad as an instrument of teaching language,

"Any parent who thinks a spelling program is educational for that age is missing the whole idea of how the preschool brain grows. What children need at that age is whole body movement, the manipulation of lots of objects and not some opaque technology. You're not learning to read by lining up the letters in the word 'cat.' You're learning to read by understanding language, by listening."

Other professionals otherwise cite the need for kids to actively engage with their environment, rather than a screen. Clearly, it is developmentally fundamental for growing children to be aware of the world around them as much as possible in order to attain cognitive understanding of situations.

We think the answer may lie somewhere in the middle. The technology available today undoubtedly makes our children smarter. Their interactions with it are prepping them for the technological future they will need to maneuver when they're older. But as with any good thing, moderation is key. If the child is wrapped up on your devices 24/7, they will miss opportunities to develop basic knowledge from the world outside of the screen. And you may just miss a phone call or two.

What do you think? How often do you let your child (or plan to let your child) interact with some of this recent kid-friendly technology?

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