Steve Jobs didn’t let his kids use an iPad at home for fear that they would become technology addicts.
According to a leading child psychologist it’s a whole lot more serious than that, however— giving very young children an iPad to play with may be “tantamount to child abuse.”
Describing it as “playing Russian roulette with their development,” Dr. Richard House (sadly not played by Hugh Laurie) argues that that the electronic images seen on an iPad screen can result in children having “an indirect and distorted experience of the world.”
“To confuse children when they have hardly begun to get a handle on this world, by introducing them to virtual, techno-magical worlds, is surely an absurd reversal of the natural order of things,” he continued.
“If this is the case with adults, how much more is it relevant to young children whose brains are still at very early stages of development. It seems that the arrogance of modern technology (together with ruthless commercialism) knows no bounds. On the basis of what I’ve argued here, giving iPads to babies is tantamount to child abuse.”
Personally speaking, it’s a fascinating debate— but one I’d like to see some more empirical research for. It’s also more than a bit annoying to see iPads singled-out as if they were the only tablets on the market, even if this does demonstrate how ubiquitous Apple’s device has become.
Dr. House is far from the only person to talk about the effect of tablets on children, or to single out Apple products. Members of the UK’s Association of Teachers and Lecturers have previously claimed that addiction to iPad and iPhones mean that kids aged between 3 and 4 have no problem swiping a screen, but have trouble understanding real space, and possess “little or no” dexterity in their fingers.
In late 2013, the toy manufacturer Fisher-Price came under fire for selling a newborn-to-toddler “apptivity” baby seat , which came with an in-built iPad holder.
Among older children, overexposure to these kinds of technologies have supposedly “eroded” children’s memories to the point that they are unable to complete traditional pen and paper exams.
I have no doubt whatsoever that parents should rely on more than just iPads to entertain their children (see: human contact), but blaming “techno-magical worlds” for reversing “the natural order of things” sounds a bit too much like blaming real-world violence on video games or comic books for my money.
Do you allow your kids use tablets, smartphones and the like? Share your opinion in the comments box below.