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!)

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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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