Children and I-Pads

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”.

img_6381            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.

4 thoughts on “Children and I-Pads

  1. Charles Tyler Hart

    One way we can see if these iPads are helping children’s education is by separating the children into two categories. A randomized control trial can have the two groups of children, one group with an iPad, and one group without an iPad, take the same exam. The kids with the iPad will be taught lessons to help with the exam on through their iPad, and the group of kids who don’t have iPads will be taught in classrooms, like it is now. If the children with iPads get better scores, the study could expand to even larger numbers of children, and we could find a correlation between children who learn through iPads and intelligence.

  2. Mairead Donnard

    I definitely relate to this blog. Just two years ago my mom went out and bought by little sister, then three years old, an educational tablet. While I do believe (and have seen) the educational benefits to giving children this type of technology, I do find it absurd for such a young child to have. I think that greater lessons can be learned through activity books and actual human interaction. In addition, I think that exposure to technology at such a young age could negatively impact social skills. Here is an interesting article about the impact of technology of a child’s ability to socialize:

  3. Peter Bott

    Wow a two year old with an Ipad? I didn’t get my first cell phone until I was in high school! I’m sure being able to use a tablet at that age can be beneficial in developing fine motor skills and listening to audio books but kids that young should be interacting with other humans and observing the world around them. There have been stories (see below) of toddlers becoming so addicted to smart phones and other devices that they need therapy.

  4. Parker Jax Yochim

    Incredibly well written, and a great story. I wonder if the increased in technology among youth today will have any unwanted side-effects such as a lack in verbal communication skills or possible attachment to said devices. While modern technology can be fantastic, it can also be detrimental, although I believe the benefits far outweigh the consequences.

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