Every summer my family and I take a vacation to Mexico; we always arrive bearing gifts for the many relatives that we sadly only see once a year. Two summers ago, we just so happened to have a new family member, a one year old baby girl named Alyssa. In our confusion of what to gift her, my mom went out on a limb and bought her an I-Pad. Now, I know that to many of you it may leave you raising and eyebrow and questioning why a one year old would possibly need such an intricate piece of technology, trust me I was left in the same state of shock when I opened the door to the delivery man and opened the package only to find the newest released gold I-Pad with the name “Alyssa” engraved on the back of it. To us “Millennials” it might seem almost unfair that these young children are getting something that we saw evolve before our very eyes. It is hard to imagine that these children will never know what it is like to grow up without the world at their fingertips; to not have an endless amount of app’s to play on road-trips but to instead have to play games of “Eye- Spy” and “Punch Buggy”.
As I went back to Mexico this past summer I was once again left in shock as I watched Alyssa, now two years old, scroll up and down through her I-Pad knowing exactly how to maneuver through all of it’s features. I must admit, I don’t even know how to work my phone as well as she knows how to work all the features on her I-Pad. Her fingers are so tiny yet she scrolls up and down the screens with her thumb looking so focused, much like many of our grandparents reading a newspaper yet, she is a two year old on an I-Pad. A two year old who I must say has even begun to learn words and phrases in English simply by playing around with apps and games on her own.
All I could help but wonder at this point was how in the world is her accessibility to this immense amount of technology affecting her learning ability? There is so much that can go on these apps that you practically do not need any other form of entertainment. From educational apps that teach you different languages and ABC’s to apps made for coloring and music, it is all a touch away for them. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under the age of two should be steered away as much as possible from having any screen time at all, meanwhile children over the age of two should be restricted to 2 hours maximum of screen time. We all know this is rarely the case. When a parent or caregiver hears a screaming child and needs a quick distraction the first thing that will land in the child’s lap will be an electronic device rather than a book to read.
I-Pads and similar technology offer an endless amount of activities. E-books for instance are something that has been popularized in recent years. There are story time books for children of all ages. Instead of parents reading books to their children they can simply sit them down with an I-Pad and it will be read aloud to them with animations and all sorts of gimmicks, all with the push of a button. Research done by Krcmar and Cingel, states that the reason why there is not a definitive line drawn between whether e-books and educational applications are actually helping children or just serving as a distraction is because of the lack of longitudinal research on the topic. They have split information, some researchers say it is helpful to instill technology use with children and others say it causes more room for distraction and reduces focusing ability. This being because the research is being done very generally, they are not digging deep and evaluating each aspect individually, all apps are different and state different purposes, even if to us as the user they all seem similar. Not only apps, the technological device as a whole needs to be studied in relation to children, along with its pros and cons.
In relation to class where we spoke of children with worms being stupid; could I-Pads and technology be the equivalent of worms in our young children, today? It seems to be just as controversial, some seem to believe that it will help them learn and others believe it is a gateway to an inability to focus. Much like the worms and the children, the use of I-Pads and technology is a topic that needs to be further studied before conclusions can be made. With something that is so up and coming and being presented into our everyday lives, it is very worthwhile to provide more time and funding into researching the benefits and ways In which we can adequately use these instruments to improve our children’s educations.