The latest research done by experts in the University of London are debunking claims that suggests early exposure to gadgets, such as the iPad, in very young children may be disadvantageous. Professor Annette Karmiloff-Smith, the head of the research, said in interview with Sunday Times that babies could actually benefit from tablet computers and must be given access to this "from birth."
"It is shocking how fast they learn, even faster than adults to do things like scroll up and down text," said the professor. "Books are static. When you observe babies with books, all they are interested in is the sound of the pages turning. Their visual system at that age is attracted by movement."
The study observed a small group of babies between the ages of six to 10 months and found out they could identify numbers better when showed on the tablet. "Everything we know about child development tells us that tablet computers should not be banned for babies and toddlers," Karmiloff-Smith further claimed.
Last year, researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine made recommendations to parents about delaying the use of gadgets on young children as it can be "detrimental to the social-emotional development of the child," as reported on Washington Post.
The experts from this study said that the scenario is similar to exposing kids to television and videos, only mobile gadgets make the situation worse. The children, therefore, must benefit more from having real-life interactions. "If these devices become the predominant method to calm and distract young children, will they be able to develop their own internal mechanisms of self-regulation?" the study, which was published in Eureka Alert, hypothesizes.
Professor Karmiloff-Smith and her team, however, remain convinced they are onto something. To further prove their findings, the experts are now studying over a hundred babies and toddlers. One group is given access to the gadgets, while the other group has none, according to Daily Mail.
They may find an ally in Jordy Kaufman, who runs BabyLab in the University of Melbourne, which studies the effects of technology among children below five years old. "When scientists and pediatrician advocacy groups have talked about the danger of screen time for kids, they are lumping together all types of screen use. But most of the research is on TV. It seems misguided to assume that iPad apps are going to have the same effect. It all depends what you are using it for," Kaufman said via The Guardian.
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