In a recent article in the WSJ — What Happens When Toddlers Zone Out With an iPad
More than half of the young children in the U.S. now have access to an iPad, iPhone or similar touch-screen device.
In many ways, the average toddler using an iPad is a guinea pig. While the iPad went on sale two years ago, rigorous, scientific studies of how such a device affects the development of young children typically take three to five years.
There is “little research on the impact of technology like this on kids,” says Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Hospital
In the list of parental worries about tablet use: that it will make kids more sedentary and less sociable. There’s also the mystery of just what is happening in a child’s brain while using the device.
“Unfortunately a lot of the real-life experimentation is going to be done by parents who now have young kids,” says Glenda Revelle, associate professor of human development and family sciences at the University of Arkansas.
At The Montessori House we generally discourage screen time for young children. A significant aspect of The Montessori Method is having children interact with the real world — in three dimensions, with all five senses. When we “follow the child” we follow them through the real world, and Montessori “works” lead them through the real world. Children engage through senses, and learn through all their senses — the Sand Paper Letters are a great example of helping children to learn by seeing the letter, moving their hands, and feeling the texture.
The more television children watch during these formative years, Dr. Christakis says, the more likely they are to develop attention problems later on. … While he hasn’t studied tablets and young children, he suspects the effect could be similar—or perhaps more significant. “One of the strengths of the iPad”—it is interactive—”may be the weakness,” Dr. Christakis says.
Remember in The Montessori classroom children make the choices and control their pace. It’s different with interactive “apps”:
The child decides when a building is finished; an app determines when the task is completed correctly.
“It gives him a dopamine squirt,” says Michael Rich, director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children’s Hospital in Boston, referring to the brain chemical often associated with pleasure.
Many apps for kids are designed to stimulate dopamine releases—hence encouraging a child to keep playing—by offering rewards or exciting visuals at unpredictable times.
Whatever approach you take with your child, keep in mind the proverb: “Moderation in all things”.