High-tech baby users, not cute or healthy

2017-02-15 06:02

MANY parents think it is “so cute” when their young babies perform various functions on digital devices and baby is captivated by the screen as it is so easy to use as a “babysitting”device.

iPad holders have been designed to clip onto the cot as a sleep or entertainment tool. On average children spend five to six hours a day staring at screens states psychologist Sue Palmer.

Sometimes two at once, watching TV while playing on an iPad.

Even prior to iPads hitting the market in 2010 experts warned that 80% of children arrived at school with poor co-ordination due to a sedentary lifestyle.

The earlier children are hooked on screens, the more difficult it is to wean them off.

The long-term impact is not yet known but research in Japan shows that far more children require glasses from an earlier age because of screen fixation.

But there are many more problems arising from the onscreen activities which affects their overall development. It’s what the screens displace – activities children are not doing in the real world - as Palmer says “real play”.

They no longer learn through first-hand experiences how to be human and are much less likely to play or socialise outdoors with others.

The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends no screen-time for children under two and a maximum two hours a day thereafter, and this includes video, TV, computer and cell phones.

Babies are born with an intense desire to learn about their world, so they’re highly motivated to interact with people and objects around them - the beginning of real play.

But when little ones can get instant rewards from high-tech devices, they don’t need to bother with real play.

Images on a screen can be just as fascinating as the real world, and even a very small child can learn to control the images with a clumsy swish of podgy fingers.

If the next generation is to grow up bright, balanced and healthy enough to use technology wisely, parents need to take action, and that means limiting screen-time, spending time together as a family and ensuring that children go out to play.

Modern technology develops at a phenomenal rate - any IT skills that children learn before the age of seven will be long past their sell-by date by the time they reach their teens.

But self-confidence, emotional resilience, creative thinking, social skills and the capacity for focused thought will stand them in good stead whatever the future brings.

Comment was requested on the above article from Early Childhood Development consultant Charmanye Forster of Letcee Greytown, who has many years of expertise in her field who told the Greytown Gazette: “What an excellent article.

It is so important for young children to have opportunities to develop holisti- cally. At a recent conference focusing on play in Gauteng a number of leading academics concurred with this article (http://www.cotlands.org.za/play-confer ence-2016/).

“I implore parents to encourage their children to play outdoors and indoors, to explore, create, communicate and move.”


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