Steve Jobs did not allow his kids to own and use an iPad at home. He feared that the iPad would turn his kids into addicts of the device. He should know. After all, he was the founder of Apple Inc. and the father of the digital revolution. Most, if not all, Silicon Valley techs and engineers limit and shield their kids from technology and prefer to send their kids to schools where the focus is on hands on learning and computers are not easily accessible.
Why do the people at the pinnacle of digital change shield their kids from this technological marvel? The reasons are too many and varied, but everyone agrees on some common pitfalls of early exposure to technology.
Children learn better from real life experiences rather than screen time. It is more so if activities involve moving and doing. Various surveys and studies show that on an average 12-month-old baby is exposed to up to 2 hours of screen time a day.
Young age (< 2 years) is very critical for learning of new concepts. Most of the learning involve 3 dimensional Sensory- motor experiences which cannot be replicated on a 2 dimensional screen. Active play involves better hand – eye coordination , fine motor skill development.
Example: Compare a ball in real life and a ball on Screen.
Infants are still developing concept of 3 dimensional vision. For a small baby watching on screen a BALL is just a flat, shaded circle. In real life if we roll a ball across floor it proceeds in a single motions and gradually slows and stops finally. But on Screen same action cannot be done; it will be broken up. Small babies may stare at bright colors and motions on screen but their brain is not capable of making sense or meaning out of these amazing pictures. By the age 2 years brain has developed enough and baby can understand things better. Due to all this confusion it is better to avoid screen time in small babies.
Distorted sense of reality:
Early exposure to technological marvels such as tablets, smart phones and computers are detrimental to the physical and mental growth of children. They give children a distorted view of reality and interfere with the natural development of the child’s brain
Co-ordination and dexterity:
Children as young as 3 and 4 when exposed to the iPad may become experts at swiping the screen, but lag behind in developing dexterity in their fingers that comes by playing sports or musical instruments.
Concept of space:
Young children have still not developed a sense of space and each new walking, bending and climbing experience helps to develop a sense of space. Early exposure to the iPad interferes with this development and gives children a distorted sense of depth and space.
Various studies have shown that children growing on iPads or other similar screen devices tend to lag behind in development of real time social skills. Regular activities such as developing social skills and making friends become a task for such children. Such children do not spend time with their own thoughts and imagination and require constant stimulation.
Development of internal mechanism of self-regulation is an important milestone in a child’s emotional development. Constant and continuous use of such devices to distract and control the behavior of children impedes their ability of self-regulation.
Maths and Science:
Playing with blocks in real time develops visual-motor skills and sensorimotor skills in children that are the base of all learning. Application of maths, science and logic in the classroom and outside comes naturally for kids whose basic skills are well – development. Playing with real blocks and puzzles is frustrating for young minds who are used to manipulating objects by swiping the screen.
The list of the evils of early exposure to screen only gets longer with time. There has been very little systematic research and the technology is still quite new to fully understand its complete effects. For now, the safest thing to do is keep that tablet away from your kids or at least stop using it as a baby sitter.