Advocate Warns Against Letting Young Children Use Touchscreen Technology
Linn Says Exposure To Smartphones, Tablets Could Hamper Children's Brain Development
By Cynthia Schuster
While touchscreen-enabled technologies like the iPad dominate adult life, many parents are also putting the devices in the hands of tots. According to one advocate, this has detrimental effects on child brain development.
Susan Linn, founder and director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, said that neurons in babies' brains aren't fully connected to one another yet, and if children grow up heavily exposed to touchscreen technologies, they might grow up expecting instant gratification and possessing an inability to focus.
“One of the problems with the new technologies is that everything happens so quickly and with so little effort,” Linn said. “You get incredible rewards for swiping a screen.”
If one contrasts Tinker Toys to touch screens, Linn said, a person will see a child who develops stamina versus one who doesn't.
“(Pre-schoolers) need to be out exploring the world. They need to develop their creativity and their capacity for persistence,” she said. “They need to have experiences of failing and then figuring out how to solve whatever the problem is that they're working on. The screen just makes just so easy.”
Some apps, like the BabyFirst app released by AT&T U-Verse, allow babies to draw on an iPad and have their creations appear on a television screen. Linn said these second-screen services have double the negative impact on children.
“There's some evidence that watching television under the age of 3 may be harmful for very young children,” she said. “Training babies to multitask before they even actually learn to task makes it even more worrisome and disturbing.”