iPad Play May Damage Infants’ Ability To Use Building Blocks

baby-with-ipad

iOS devices might be ruining your child’s ability to play with building blocks, according to a recent report.

Members of the UK’s Association of Teachers and Lecturers claim that addiction to iPad and iPhones mean that children aged between 3 and 4 have no problem swiping a screen, but have difficulty understanding real space, and possess “little or no” dexterity in their fingers.

“I have spoken to a number of nursery teachers who have concerns over the increasing numbers of young pupils who can swipe a screen but have little or no manipulative skills to play with building blocks or the like, or the pupils who cannot socialize with other pupils but whose parents talk proudly of their ability to use a tablet or smartphone,” says teacher Colin Kinner.

Among older children, overexposure to mobile technologies has apparently left children’s “memory … eroded” to the point that they are unable to complete traditional pen and paper exams.

The question of whether iPads and iPhones are suitable (or beneficial) for young children has raged in recent years. Many of us have “ooed” and “aahed” over videos of toddlers apparently mastering Apple’s easy-to-use mobile devices, while companies like Speck have successfully brought to market kid-friendly iPad cases like the iGuy.

Not everything has proven so popular, however. In late 2013, toymaker Fisher-Price came under fire for selling a newborn-to-toddler “apptivity” baby seat, which came with an in-built iPad holder.

In the aftermath, Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood advocacy group labeled the seat “oppressive and destructive to young children,” and claimed that its mission statement as the “ultimate electronic babysitter” encouraged parents to leave their baby alone.

A 2011 report from the Academy of American Pediatrics meanwhile suggested that children under the age of two should spend as little time as possible with screens of any kind, for developmental reasons.

If you’re a parent (or even if you’re not), what’s your verdict on the subject of kids and iPads?

Are they a useful tool? Should they come with a minimum age for use?

Or are you happy just so long as your child doesn’t grow up a Samsung user, since this means they’ll be more likely to copy in class? (Just kidding about this last one!)

  • AAPL_@_$101_Is_A_Done_Deal_:)

    I don’t understand why Apple’s products are being singled out. Supposedly Android OS is used on more than 80% of the smartphones in the world. Also recently it has been mentioned that Android tablets are in the majority of all tablets being sold. Why is it iPad and iPhones are being claimed to do the most damage to infants when there are far more Android OS devices on the planet?

    • Karrasa

      Probably nothing more than brand awareness. Specific brand grabs more attention than “tablet” and Apple presumably have still about the biggest market share per manufacturer. You could then focus on Android but I strongly suspect that quite a few users are not all that familiar with which OS they are running, especially when you consider how heavily modified some versions of Android look. So then, it ends up reading somewhat like an anti-Apple article, primarily because so many people know who Apple are and would recognise an iPad/Phone.

      Sounds like nonsense to me anyway. If a kid has not been given toys that work on motor control prior to age 3-4, the problem with the parenting techniques runs rather deeper than whether or not they get to play with touchscreens.

  • Rafterman00

    Well, sure, if the kid uses the iPad as a chew toy, I wouldn’t hold out much hope of him figuring out building blocks.

    :D

  • marccardinal

    To the moron, hit whoring author: TABLET Play May Damage Infants’ Ability To Use Building Blocks.

    There, I fixed it for you. Some of you guys have no shame.

  • Teesang

    As a parent, my 3 year old can use her iPad like an expert, and also build a castle out of blocks, magformers, and duplo without a problem. This isn’t a question about the tools or technology, it’s a question about balance and good parenting.

    • http://matt-curtis.me/ Matt Curtis

      That’s pretty obvious.

      • Teesang

        Unfortunately “obvious” and common sense don’t come to all that easily. And the world learns that the hard way.

  • Corey Robertson

    How about some data?

    • Karrasa

      That would be nice but it sounds like it is largely based on anecdotal evidence from teachers, which I guess we should season with salt to taste. It is not even clear how the teachers in question established level of tablet usage.

  • Xantippa’s

    What a load of poppycock…

  • bontalampas

    No problem, after all, future will be more digital, who needs real space?

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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