Will the iPad Turn my Toddler’s Brain to Mush?

Its true. iPads can be a force for good. Tabloid headlines are forever proclaiming that tablets like the iPads are bad for kids

Quoting study after study, they insist children, especially under-twos, growing up on iPads will suffer mushy brain for the rest of their lives.

As we know, the Tabloids must sensationalize.

Truth be told, the jury is actually still out. Historically, studies have focused on the effect of ‘screen time’ on children’s brains - generally the television. iPads, tablets and smart phones broadly, tend to provide a more interactive experience and hence their impact cannot be directly compared to that of passively starting at a TV screen.

At least that’s what the experts say:

The very nature of tablet apps whether educational or games, is to keep the user addicted and they do this by introducing an element of unpredictability: achievements and rewards. The brain responds to these the same way it would to any other pleasurable stimulus – by releasing a feel good hormone, dopamine, says Ben Worthen of the Wall Street Journal. But is that necessarily harmful?

Well, we don’t know yet. As the experts point out, the iPad and tablet technology is a mere two years old itself. Any credible research needs to be conducted for a period of at least 3-5 years to be considered significant.

The American Academy of Pediatrics however has no such qualms and insists that for children under two any screen time at all is bad. But the temptation of handing over your iPad to a screaming, tantrum-throwing toddler is irresistible when you’re trapped on a transatlantic flight, painfully aware of hundreds of pairs of eyes willing you to hand it over. Submitting to your toddler’s emotional shenanigans has got to be better than death by mortification. Imagine trying to distract him with a book instead. Not!

How could this possibly be wrong:

Tablet technology is a powerful educational tool. It has been shown to improve vocabulary and in some cases problem solving skills. It is also revolutionizing special needs education. It’s a boon for children with autism spectrum disorders including Aspergers as well as others with cerebral palsy or Down’s Syndrome. It has also been shown to help ‘reach’ children with impaired social skills.

So the advice, I’d say, should just be ‘everything in moderation.’

View Comments

Recommended For You