Are iPads and tablets bad for young children?
Posted in: Internet Use/New Technologies at 09/01/2014 18:29
Tablet ownership has more than doubled in the past few years - and as many parents are finding, children are highly proficient at using them. But are these devices harmful to their development? Or do they encourage 'technological intelligence'?
Four small preschool children are sitting in a semi-circle around their teacher, in a large, bright room in a Georgian house in Bath. The nursery belongs to the Snapdragons chain, one of the first in the UK to offer iPads to its children soon after the tablet was launched in April 2010. The shelves are full of books, but the children are not looking at books. They are listening to their teacher, Amy Porter, read aloud an interactive story from an iPad about Zub the monster. The children bend towards the screen as if its glow were pulling them closer. They creep forward, the circle tightens and the iPad disappears from view beneath four heads of supremely shiny hair. Their engagement is absolute. They are kneeling, bobbly undersides of socks poking out from beneath their bottoms, feet as neatly folded and intently composed as adult hands at rest in a lap.
Since their launch, tablets have become increasingly popular in preschool and early-years learning. And, in growing numbers, parents are buying them for home use. John Lewis predicted that it would sell one tablet every 15 seconds in the runup to Christmas. By December, the Tesco Hudl had become so hard to find it was selling on eBay for £180 instead of £119. Then Aldi joined the budget price war with the launch of a rival tablet for £80.