Parents often ask questions such as ‘how much is too much?’ particularly when allowing their children to use an iPad at home. Language is an important skill that allows everyone to communicate and this area of learning always comes into review when we look at the use of iPads. But you may ask, how much do children communicate and talk when using the iPad?
I recently researched reasons for and against the use of an iPad. Throughout all the research I looked at, I noted many arguments for both sides and was surprised to discover data showing a huge increase in the use of the iPads across a variety of different countries. In the UK, in a Daily Telegraph article, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2018/10/04/majority-three-four-year-olds-now-ipad-survey-finds/ they reported:
‘A survey of over 1,000 parents carried out by Childwise found that 54 per cent of three to four-year-old children now have their own device, up from 47 per cent last year.’
The OFCOM communications regulator in the UK produces statistical data which stated how many children have their own tablet device at home. In 2011, it was 7%, in 2014 it was 71% and more recently in June 2018 it was 82%. From this data alone, you can see the huge change in how accessible technology is and the general shift in society (albeit in the UK). These iPads can be moved around and used independently, unlike the television where it used to be shared and watched as a family.
As adults who are in control of the iPads, we must try to ensure they are being used for educational purposes, not just gaming, so that they really do benefit and not hinder our children. This was recently part of a wider discussion in the UK news and concerns were raised about the controls that were on the iPads, and how families were no longer talking and doing activities together. This is what parents were advised:
- To let children have a maximum of two hours per night;
- To make their children put the technology away for their mealtimes;
- To leave iPads outside their bedrooms at night to stop them playing under the covers and keeping themselves awake.
Here are 10 benefits to exposing children to modern technology which I found on the DigiParenthood website:
- Better Hand-eye Coordination
- Improves Language Skills
- Promotes School Readiness and Cognitive Development
- Higher Capacity for Visual Attention
- Enhances social interaction skills
- Increases motivation to complete tasks
- More Dynamic Spatial Skills
- Develops Problem Solving Skills
- Expands Horizons
- Develops Skills and Talents
I would recommend you use the iPads in moderation and do not to let them take over your children’s every day activities. While some apps can be educational for children, too much screen time may mean that they are not getting the social interaction that is necessary for development particularly with their language, physical and social skills. The British Association for Early Childhood Education in the UK writes a series of leaflets called learning together and one of them includes support on engaging your child with Technology at home. Please take a look at the link below:
But remember that nothing replaces conversations, reading, and play with your child. You are an important part of their exposure to this world through communication. Although the iPads are a great tool and can aid their learning nothing can replace the learning that the children get from the love and time of their parents and friends!