Nowadays, an infant holding an iPhone, an iPod or any tech gadget available on the market is not an unusual scene. These gadgets don’t fail to draw attention from any age group, even infants, who from their tiny fingers and awkward grip, still manage to play with these gadgets. But the question every parent should be asking is if these high tech gadgets are indeed helpful.
Baby Media is Booming
With the emergence of high-end gadgets also came the rise of infant related electronic products, all branded as educational, but how educational can an app be?
Experts have a different take on matters concerning educational toys and high tech gadgets for infants. In a report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation, there is no evidence or research supporting all the new emerging media for infants. How they affect infants and children is not fully understood and the claim that they are educational lacks significant support. According to the Foundation’s VP, a lot of products for infants and children have emerged but research advancements on them are slow. There is no outcome-based research on these products and the products’ claims don’t have any theoretical basis.
So what does this imply to parents who might be entertaining the possibility of introducing a product that can greatly affect the child’s development? Since the effects of these products still remain unknown, parents are not warned on the possible side effects. More so, parents are also placed at the risk of spending money for something that might not be entirely helpful or necessary.
Also Read : Technology for Kids : The Good and the Bad
What Parents Should Do?
Experts suggest parents know if these tech educational toys are indeed appropriate for the child’s age and learning capabilities. Educational toys can be maximized if they are used properly and according to directions. When it comes to educational toys using screen time, experts suggest not using them until age 2.
This is a recommendation strongly held by the American Academy of Pediatrics, saying that screen time at younger than 2 can replace human interaction (which is necessary for infants at this age) and can interfere with normal brain growth and development. For infants younger than 2 years old, reading, talking and playing with parents, caregivers and other family members are the best venues for education.
According to experts, infants learn best within the context of relationships, so an infant playing ball with a parent or a caregiver learns more than an infant who just slides a ball on a cell phone screen.
Screen time exposure to educational programs is not that bad at all, that is, if the parent exposes the child at the appropriate age. Certain studies reveal that educational programs can teach numbers and vocabulary concepts to children aged 3-5 years old.
But still, no amount of technology can replace human interaction. In a study done with infants 12 to 15 months of age, it was found that infants given live demonstrations on how to use puppets could imitate the action faster compared to infants who just saw the instructions on video. Technology might bring us limitless possibilities, but when it comes to our little ones, we might consider using them carefully.