Today’s children and toddlers are discovering the wonders of mobile technology early in life. Small children are often fascinated by colorful, interactive apps, and it’s now normal to walk into waiting rooms or stores and see toddlers playing on devices.
Society often encourages us to feel guilty about this change. Shouldn’t we be playing with our children or paying more attention to them rather than simply letting them sit and stare at tablets? While that’s true to an extent, the answer is more complex. There are both pros and cons of tablets for children, and you need to understand both before deciding what’s right for your little one.
Benefits of Tablets for Children
Resources are more accessible than ever thanks to modern technology, and all the information we need is at the tips of our fingers 24/7. This is also true for children who use mobile devices. Some of the benefits of tablets for kids include:
- Learning: If you’re looking for ways to expedite the learning process, downloading appropriate apps for your child’s tablet can provide a simple, interactive solution. They may have the opportunity to learn all types of skills in subjects like reading, math, science and music through minigames and colorful videos. Apps such as ABC Mouse, Elmo Loves ABCs and Toca Band are great choices for pre-school children.
- Bonding and entertainment: Tablets can also serve as bonding tools between you and your child. You may be able to use a mobile device to play games with them, watch shows with them, read books to them and more. These devices also present a great opportunity for you to get involved in your child’s development by talking to them about what they’re doing and seeing.
- Use of technology: It’s undeniable that technology is the way of the future. About 96% of Americans now own a mobile device, and schools all over the country are now implementing digital and online learning solutions. Allowing your toddler to use a tablet early can help make them tech-savvy enough to navigate the digital world when they get older, which will be essential as more organizations start embracing advanced tech.
Downsides Involved With Kids Using These Devices
The first eight years of life are some of the most critical for brain development in a child, meaning screen time is bound to have lasting effects. While tablets for kids offer some advantages, there are also a few possible drawbacks to keep in mind, such as:
- Less social interaction: Children who spend too much time staring at a screen miss out on interactions that can help develop their social and behavioral skills. Some studies have suggested a link between mobile devices and behavioral issues in kids, while others have even found communication delays in 18-month-old toddlers who use them. Your child, especially at a young age, needs to bond with you one-on-one and meet new people to stay on track.
- Less sleep and physical activity: Screen time can get in the way of children’s important needs, such as sleep and exercise. Kids, especially those under the age of 8, need time for sleep and active play to grow into strong and healthy adolescents.
- Less real-world experience: While tablets offer fun and exciting sensory experiences, they pale in comparison to real-life experiences. Children need to touch, smell, hear and taste the world they live in rather than simply looking at it on a screen. Giving them too many hours on the tablet early in life may rob them of the experiences they need to develop essential cognitive abilities.
Letting your toddler use the iPad for a while in the evening is completely acceptable. That said, sticking one in their hands every time you want to keep them occupied or letting them sit with it for hours at a time can become problematic. As with anything else, it’s simply important to remember the value of moderation. Limiting your child’s screen time will help ensure that they can reap all the benefits of the tablet responsibly, avoiding the biggest drawbacks in the process.
How Old Should a Child Be to Use a Tablet?
Many of today’s schools start allowing students to use tablets for learning as early as the ages of 4 and 5, while some parents start even earlier. Although there’s no hard and fast rule, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until a child is at least 2 years old before letting them use a mobile device.
Setting rules and boundaries is the key. If you feel comfortable letting your toddler use a tablet, remember to put restrictions in place that encourage moderation to help them develop the skills and functions they need. For example, you might consider giving your child an hour of screen time each day and setting aside time for other types of bonding, exercise and creative play. Having precious hours away from the device allows children to build their imaginations, social skills and the other important abilities they need to succeed.
Weigh the Pros and Cons for Your Own Unique Situation and Child
Used sparingly, tablets can be great tools to help educate and entertain children. Researchers are still studying the effects of iPads on toddlers, so we’ll likely learn more as we go. The development of technology will continue to influence both children and adults in the years to come. Stay in touch with The Whiz Cells for more trending cellphone-related content!