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It’s hard enough for a grown-up to limit iPad use. How is iPad addiction affecting our kids?


If you’ve ever needed a moment to yourself and handed your kid an iPad, you know how they can go from scattered to rapt in about 10 seconds. Turn on some Angry Birds, some Toki Doki or even a Dr. Seuss app-book, and there’s a feeling that they’re learning something while you take a breather. Win-win, right?

Well, maybe not. Despite the iPad’s stellar reputation as a kids’ toy (Mike Elgan deemed it the  Toy of the Year way back in 2010), the jury is still out on its actual effect on kids.  In a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, Ben Worthen discusses the implications of iPad usage on the newest generation.

There is “little research on the impact of technology like this on kids,” says Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Hospital.  A study at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, however, showed significant gains in vocabulary after a small test group used particular apps on the iPod Touch.

While increased intellectual gains are the plus, the downsides are still considerably unstudied and unknown. Worthen’s own son exhibited strong reactions to the iPad: he turned red in the face while using it, wouldn’t respond to his name and asked for the tablet first thing in the morning. The tantrums got so bad that Worthen ultimately took the iPad away from him for good.

Nancy Darling argues in Psychology Today that iPads and tablet computers have no place being used by children under two. “The sheer amount of time spent in front of a screen does not engage active thinking or playing, creative pursuits, or talking in-depth with family and friends.” There’s also the fear that tablets could contribute to kids being less social and less active than previous generations.

But there’s no doubt that toddlers love them. The iPad’s ability to captivate and enthral tiny audiences has parents reaching for them for long flights, road trips and prescribed down time.

The long term effects of the technology might not be known to us, but the labs are our living rooms and our kids are the test subjects. Will they grow up to be insanely smart, anti-social adults that hate exercise? We somehow doubt it.

We didn’t grow up to have square eyes, after all.

Have an iPad-loving toddler at home? Check out these 6 Awesome Kid-friendly Apps.

Photo by seventwentysk via Flickr

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