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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Do Toddler Apps Turn Young Brains To Mush?

The iPad has only been around three years and child development researchers call it a game changer. (See the slideshow of how babies and toddlers are using iPads, above.)

That’s because while parents could pocket their iPhones to hide them from their kids, they can’t do that as easily with the big and bright iPad.

Because they’re so attractive to children, one reviewer of children’s media calls the iPad and other tablet computers baby rattles on steroids.

And a growing number of interactive apps are being developed specifically for two- and three-year-olds.

But while the American Academy of Pediatrics has long discouraged passive media use, the academy hasn’t weighed in yet on interactive applications.

Research is limited, since apps are so new, but the debate is polarized.

Psychologist and author Aric Sigman told The Telegraph, “We risk infantilising the child’s mind by spoon-feeding it with strong audio-visual sensations.”

"This child and his parents were seated at the table next to ours at a restaurant last evening... His parents worked hard to keep him occupied but nothing seemed to last beyond a minute or two until... the iPad appeared." (Dick Jensen/Flickr)

“His parents worked hard to keep him occupied but nothing seemed to last beyond a minute or two until… the iPad appeared.” (Dick Jensen/Flickr)

He argued that computers should be banned from schools until children reach age nine.

Experts told the International Business Times that it might be beneficial for an adult to be present while the child is fixated on the screen.

One correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, Hanna Rosin, delves into the question over whether tablets and apps are good for toddlers, and concludes … maybe they’re not so bad after all.

Do you think interactive apps are good for toddlers? Let us know on Facebook.

Demo of the “Letter School” app:

Demo of the “Noodle Words” app:

Demo of “Toca Boca Hair Salon” app:

Demo of “Toca Boca Tea Party” app:

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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