The iPad May Be the Newest Electronic Babysitter
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Preschoolers may look like they're playing, but they're also strengthening their little hand muscles, getting them school ready.
"The best way is to get off of this, and put those electronics aside," says kindergarten teacher Caroline Robicsek. She says she sees more and more kids who come to school lacking basic skills. "We have children that come to school that have never colored, or never cut, and when they do it for the first time their little hands get tired."
Turns out all those activities we did as kids, like peg boards and Legos, are being replaced by passive pacifiers... the iPad or smartphone. We've all been there. We need to make dinner or finish a report, but the kids are acting crazy. There's an app for that. Using an iPad as a babysitter can be convenient, but when is it hurting, and when is it helping?
Pediatrician Dr. Anitha Leonard says about an hour of screen time a day is fine, but beyond that she worries about ADHD, obesity, and social skills. "I think we're seeing a large number of children who really lack the ability to interact with human beings," she says.
As an educator, Erin Gillis balances school work with screen time. "I certainly let my kids watch TV and play with the iPad from time to time," she says. "And use the computer. I think it's inevitable they're gonna be exposed to technology."
Mom of four Ivanna Campbell prefers crafts and games for occupying her kids. "We actually spend a lot of time outdoors. We like to play a lot of games outside," she says. "How do we balance technology with traditional play and creativity and using their imaginations? That's what I worry about."
Dr. Leonard also suggests using the iPad as part of a rewards system. Instead of doling out candy or toys, offer minutes of screen time. Another way to quiet a cranky toddler? Try carrying some crayons, or even a good old fashioned book.