Beyond the Portable Screen

A relatively new and immensely popular technology, the tablet-computer is beginning to focus on young children as a market creating a fundamental change in the nature of childhood.  But what really happens when we expose our young children to portable screens?  


The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourage the exposure of children under the age of 2 to multimedia media devices and limits screen time to less than an hour a day for preschool children.  No actual research has been published about the effects of tablets on the developing mind and body of young children but child experts have expressed their concern through popular press.  


Most of these published articles suggest that during the age 0-6 years, the child’s brain develops rapidly and learning comes best when interacting with people but the solitary nature of tablet activity hinders this learning process leading to a slow-down in language development and communication skills.  Also, as the child focuses more on the screen, there’s a growing inability to focus more on the conversation and social interaction. 


 Pediatricians and other health experts also raised a red flag on its effect to the physical development of a child.  Spending too much sedentary time on the tablet limits movement and leads to poor posture and body balance, some delays in fine motor skills, as well as muscle weakness in some areas of the child’s body. 


Another rising concern is the correlation between ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)and the tablet.  Many child experts believe that the surge in ADHD cases coincides with the increase usage of portable devices but scientific research is yet to prove a direct link between the two.  A child in front of a portable screen seemed focus and shows a lot of concentration but experts say it is not so.  

The child’s brain is actually working harder to process the barrage of information and fast movement of the screen.  The much increase in brain activity makes it difficult for the child to focus on one task.  When the brain is used to this fast-paced virtual world, it is a struggle to adapt to the real world because of its much slower pace.  After putting down the tablet, the child becomes more distracted because the real world is underwhelming, dragging, and less interesting.  

What parents can do minimize the impact of this new technology is to limit the time of device usage and maximize its educational benefits by downloading age-appropriate and child-friendly applications.  Research about the tablet and its effect to the young minds is so recent that there’s still a lot more we need to know.