Why you shouldn’t let an iPad raise your kids


Yep, kids love their iPads.
The challenges of parenting in the digital age.
Photo: Payless

Steve Jobs didn’t let his kids play with iPads and, far from being out of touch with modern parenting, it turns out that he was being quite progressive.

That’s according to a recent study carried out by the University of Michigan, which found that parents with “difficult” children are far more likely to give them iPads to pacify them — particularly during high-stress times like eating, being in public, doing chores, or going to bed.

For the study, the parents of 144 healthy kids from low-income families (that’s probably the Jobs family out of the running then!) were interviewed about the likelihood of employing a tablet during different scenarios. A link was found between those with badly-behaved kids, and those likely to hand over a mobile device in the scenarios described.

“We found that the less control and more frustration parents felt over their children’s behaviour, the more likely they were to turn to mobile devices to help calm their kids down,” said the study’s lead author Dr. Jenny Radesky.

It should be pointed out, of course, that “iPads” in this scenario seem to be being used as a generic catch-all to describe tablets. Although Android devices aren’t explicitly mentioned in the report, I’d be shocked if the brand of device made any difference whatsoever — aside from kids maybe being more drawn to iPads overall.

There is also no emphasis on causation rather than correlation, meaning that the “shock horror” headline about iPads causing bad behavior is thankfully not mentioned.

But the bigger question of when parents should use mobile devices around kids is an important one. In a restaurant recently, I sat next to a family with a badly-behaved child, both of whose parents totally ignored him to stare at their own tablets. Everyone reading this will also likely have seen kids given tablets to play with to stop them getting bored and interrupting grown-ups.

At the same time, it’s impossible to deny the benefit of educational apps — and to ignore the fact that, at some schools, kids now spend up to 75 percent of their days using iPads.

Do you have kids? If so (or even if not!) are you surprised by this particular study and its conclusions? How do manage iPad time for your kids, making sure they get as many of the positive opportunities it offers without the negatives? Leave your comments below.

Via: Women’s Weekly

  • Ipad usage defenitely should be controlled by parents, as well as the content.

  • Ollie McMillan

    My two cousins (age 7 and 9) both have iPad minis. Whenever I visit they always have them on their possession and want to show me games they have been playing (mostly Minecraft). Now Minecraft is an interesting game because it allows users to build whatever they can think of which I consider good stimulation for creativity in the brain, however their usage seems far greater than any other activities they used to do. I’m not so worried about the educational and creative aspects iPads can offer but I am concerned about the social impact it could have on them. Text less, talk more (in person) is what I think. I think its incredibly important to develop the social skills they need for later life rather than interacting behind a screen.

  • DrMuggg

    It’s always this “Look they are using an iPad!!!!” instead of “What are they doing on their iPads”.

    My 75 yrs old father can never separate the “My god all these people stirring into a phone” instead of underrstanding that they do a myriad of things on their phones (Anything from playing stupid games to watching a movie with their kids taking the first steps at home – filmed by the other parent).

  • TheMadTurtle

    My wife and I have 3 sons and they all have some exposure to iPads. The oldest two – 4 and 6 – have “rest time” every afternoon for about 1 hour, where they go to their rooms and play. If they choose, they can play on an iPad, but before they can play “fun” games, they have to complete a lesson in either ABC Mouse, Math Seeds or Reading Eggs – all great educational apps. It’s funny, but some of the “fun” games they want to play are often educational apps that are just very cleverly disguised as games. ;) Even our 2 year-old gets some exposure to an iPad. Companies like Duck, Duck, Moose make lots of great apps that can teach kids motor skills, cause and effect and more.

    We are definitely cognizant of how much they use the devices, though. And they are never simply available whenever a boy wants one. Nor are they simply given to them to pacify them.

  • bIg hIlL

    I am with Jobs on this one, Don’t give kids tech. They will grow up retarded. Mark my words.

  • Danny-wa

    Same could be said of a television or computer. Let’s not mince words, there is no substitute for a parent doing the actual parenting. All of these are tools, only.

    • DrMuggg

      And keep them away from trainmodels! Or meccano! or LEGO! And Videoviolence! And rock music!


  • My three year old is allowed to watch the iPad (YouTube or Netflix) at bed time and play on his own (my old) iPhone when we’re out AFTER he’s eaten or in the car on journeys. Content is monitored…usage not so much. If he wanted it more often, he’d get it (and sometimes does).

    These things will be the tools of the future and kids should know how to use them. It’s not a substitute for good parenting. If anything it’s a reward for good kids. The only thing this report highlights is bad parents.

  • Tech-phobic people said the same thing in 1969…about Sesame Street.

    • Luke Dormehl

      Surely it’s about moderation, though? The question is where the line should be.

  • Tripp Miller

    Our 2-year-old uses an iPad, mostly during meals. We’re also prone to passing him a phone when we’re in a restaurant and things start to go sideways. Dude loves him some YouTube… the toddler YouTube rabbit hole is DEEP and much of it is educational.

    In my experience, tech hasn’t made my son behave any worse. In fact, it’s one of the only things that improves behavior at meal time. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. The mind of a 2-year-old isn’t wired to sit at a table and eat a whole meal of food while mom and dad discuss the outcome of the Republican primaries or schedule their week. Developmentally, a 2-year-old isn’t really ready for manners. Getting the food from the plate to the mouth is about as good as we can hope to do, and if the iPad creates enough of a distraction to make food-mouthing seem like less of a chore, then that’s a win.

    Of course, some 2-year-olds probably sit quietly in their seat with their napkins in their lap and ask for extra vegetables, please. Oddly enough not every child is alike. They’re kind of like regular, grown people in that way.

  • Nem Wan

    The article implies that a child being pacified by an iPad is a bad outcome without actually explaining how it’s bad. Maybe technology is accelerating human evolution into an unrecognizable form sooner than we thought.