For the last several years, parents have argued whether or not technology screens in the form of tablets and iPads are hurting the creativity levels of our youth. While most of us grew up with books, crayons, and wooden spoons, our children today are using a different set of learning activities. But, every time there is a shift in learning tools, we don’t know the impact they will have. Technology is changing fast and we haven’t had the time to evaluate the outcomes over the long term.
Without concrete evidence on the good or the bad, parents are forced to take matters into their own hands. Each child is different, and only you, as the parent, can determine if your child is inhibiting creative development by spending too much time on the tablet.
Set time limits
Setting time limits seems to be a key. Every parent grapples with the right amount of time, but according to the Canadian Paediatric Society’s most recent guidelines; all screen-based activity is discouraged for children under the age of two years old. Two hours or less each day is recommended for children under the age of five.
Some parents of school-aged children have difficulty prying the pad out of the palms of their child. The cult-like game, Minecraft, has become a fixation for many. But, again, it depends on the child. Experts tell us that certain activities are beneficial, but when your child becomes unresponsive or distant while playing a game on the tablet, it is time to give them a break from the device.
Know how to use the screen
During a recent poll regarding screen use for kids, most parents stated that they offer the tablet as a means of education. At least, that is the primary objective. And, while this may be the case for older children, younger kids, such as babies and toddlers, are given the device as a means of distraction. Parents want their child to stop crying so they offer the iPad. During trips or doctor office visits, young children are seen using the device as a means of distraction.
According to researchers in child development and learning, creativity is diminished and in some cases, prevented, when a child stares at a screen and becomes despondent. Distraction is achieved, but positive play is not.
Infants and toddlers learn with social interaction
Children learn and develop through social interaction. A smartphone, iPad, or mobile device cannot take the place of social interaction. These devices do not provide what the child needs to creatively develop.
A technological device does not replace rich experiences. Children need time to explore and be provided with hands-on experiences. An iPad offers a virtual world where few senses are evoked.