Tablets and smartphones have changed the world, together with people’s behaviour across various social contexts. We also now see kids lost in the world that their device offers them. Such devices seem to be the ideal solution for parents who do not have time for their kids. They can also serve as a reward tool, for example, if the child obeys, he will get to use the tablet, if he does not act appropriately, he will be punished and restricted from using it. Sometimes these devices are the only solution to get them to behave or sit quietly in the car.
With that said, several members in the field of psychology are sceptical of the impacts of tablets and other gadgets on children under the age of three. It is the belief of certain psychologists that this may negatively impact a developing brain.
It is important to keep in mind that new media has always been perceived in a negative light when adopted by kids. Just have a look at the fire that video games came under due to the perception that they may influence children and lure them into violent tendencies. Similar criticism came about for television, which was associated with harming the eyes of kids. Do tablets merit similar criticism?
Since tablets are still relatively new, research regarding their impact on kids is yet to be determined, since the data available is quite limited. In this respect, some studies actually go against each other, which means it is difficult to draw the conclusion of whether tablets are beneficial or detrimental for children.
A recommendation published by the World Health Organization in 2019 was that children between two and five years of age should not exceed one hour of screen time on a daily basis. If less, it is better. This is due to the fact that the screen robs time from physical activity and sleep, not because the tablet is in itself dangerous. Sleep and physical activity contribute a lot to a child’s mental development. During these early stages of life, a child’s brain develops extensively and fast and maintaining minimal interaction with people might be harmful to it.
The American Heart Association also suggests that extended time in front of screens can be correlated with future heart disease, due to the associations with obesity and lack of exercise. Obesity is likely to extend into adulthood with risks of high cholesterol, blood pressure and diseases.
When it comes to reading, it is also found that children who use electronic books have a lesser understanding when compared to physical ones. This is associated with the fact that such tablets come with various distractions which make understanding the story more difficult. This can also impact the attention span and concentration.
Should children be of a certain age before they are exposed to tablets? Let us know in the comments section.