At a time when some parents are encouraging their toddlers to use iPads and others are shying away from them completely, the question remains: How do iPads impact the development of a child’s brain? Dr. Jordy Kaufman is currently engaged in a study that will perhaps shed some light on this controversial topic.
“There is enough research showing television, especially some types of television, can have a detrimental effect on children,” Dr. Kaufman says. “But to assume it’s bad for all sorts of vices seems to be painting with an overly broad stroke. [...] Technology is changing so quickly, and what we really have to try to do from a science and societal perspective is try to have the research not lag too far behind that.”
So far, 46 children aged four to six have been observed. The test examines the children’s attention and problem-solving capabilities after using an iPad vs. using real toys. For instance, children are first asked to solve a problem using a wooden model. They are then asked to solve the same problem using an iPad app. Afterward, they are given a test to assess their attention. Preliminary findings have shown that, for some children, touchscreens appear to enhance learning. Results also indicate that calm, creative activities on the touchscreen, such as painting, were similar to their “real world” counterparts in that they “do not seem to adversely affect children’s behavior or attention in the short term.”
Of course, Dr. S is very interested in this research and is looking forward to the data the study produces. As Dr. S says, “Not all screens are alike in all ways. This controversy needs light more than heat, more good science and less irrational emotion. All good TV research may not apply to new interactive screens. Tablets are likely to have some overlap with TV, but also have its own unique advantages and disadvantages.”
What are your feelings on this study? What do you think the data will show when it’s all said and done? Share your thoughts with us.
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