My hubby got me an IPad recently, so that I can tweet at night while still making sure that Marcie doesn’t scratch in bed (I’m @MarcieMom!). As expected (going by how the kids are hoarding the display Ipad in stores), Marcie loves the IPad and intuitively can swipe, squeeze (to zoom out) and stretch (to zoom out) her fingers! As all parents of eczema child know, scratching is bad but seems to feel good for the child, and we’re always looking for a way to keep them off scratching.
So, we’ve let Marcie play with the IPad, but only for no more than 30 minutes and only when she catches me tweeting on it (I don’t play any game, not yet anyway). I find that it’s effective when it comes to occupying her fingers, and the apps are so interesting! In the picture are Marcie’s favorite free apps – ABFree, Music Sparkle, Doodle Buddy and Coloring Book. Her fingers can be occupied with tapping the ABC, flicking the circle up and down the screen, tapping on crayon and drawing on the IPad! But as with all things, I googled to find out the impact of IPad on kids and I’m amazed that it helps special kids. Here’s a quick pros and cons list.
1. Catches the attention of the child – It’s better than scratching till blood and reinforces learning; you can always go for apps by trustworthy developers, see recommendations from Mums with Apps and here.
3. Helps with motor skills, see this inspiring story on how it has helped a boy with debilitating motor-neuron disease
1. Makes the child become used to being distracted and switching tasks, instead of focusing (see here for NYT article)
2. The intense visual/mental interaction deprives the child’s brain from needed rest (another great NYT article)
3. Causes temporary deafness disorder as the ears tune out because the mind is tuning in so much (so kids really can’t hear what you’re telling them to do while they’re on IPad)
4. Not a replacement for human interaction and guidance which can build social skills and critical thinking skills
5. Rewards the child for short attention span and insignificant acts (think of games that give you a goodie/point when you just point here, go there)
6. Exposing your child to more advertising (as if TV is not enough!)
7. Lack of regulations on privacy and on tracking use of your child’s behavior when he/she is on the app
Lastly, we as parents can’t be hooked on the IPad ourselves (“Plugged-in Parents“) and deprive our children of needed attention! What’s your take on this?
p.s. See updated policy statement from Amercian Academy of Pediatrics