Many parents hand over a smartphone or a tablet to pacify their child throwing tantrums. A recent study suggests that such parental behavior may affect the emotional development of a child.
Touch sensitive mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones have become very common in the modern world. Companies such as Apple and Samsung offer a number of touch-sensitive devices such as iPads, iPhones, and more, which entice children as well as adults.
The study conducted by researchers at the Boston University Medical Center sheds some light on the possible link between child behavior and development and devices such as iPads. The researchers suggest that if a tablet or smartphone is given to kids to pacify them, then it can be held responsible for the developmental damage of the child.
Previous studies suggest children below 30 months old do not learn from videos or television but they learn from real-life interactions. There are not many studies confirming if children learn from interactive applications. However, some studies point out that children below two years old learn best from face-to-face interactions.
Electronic books and tablets may be helpful for learning but only after they have attained pre-school age. Even though tablets and smartphones can be used as a learning tool by pre-school aged children, it should not be handed over to them as a distraction when a child is throwing tantrums.
"If these devices become the predominant method to calm and distract young children, will they be able to develop their own internal mechanisms of self-regulation?" the study posed the question.
Dr. Jenny Radesky, clinical instructor in Developmental-Behavioural Pediatrics at Boston University, who is also the author of the study, suggests that heavy usage of mobile devices at a very young age can interfere with empathy development and problem solving skills. These skills are normally attained by interaction with friends, exploring their environment and unstructured play.
Interactive mobile devices also replace the hands-on activities that are important for visual-motor and sensorimotor skills development, which play a significant role in learning maths and science.
The study also suggests that tablet and smartphone usage for children below 30 months old have best effects when they are being used with parents.
Tablets, eBooks and apps are wasted on children below 30 months old but are most effective when used with parents.
Dr. Radesky says that a lot of research is needed in this field but until more information is available about the impact of mobile device use on young children, parents should avoid giving these devices to their children unnecessarily.