There has been no body of research to date in India that has proved that tablet or the iPad makes toddlers smarter, or that it affects their development adversely. But then every new medium is invariably accused of affecting children adversely.
However every one – supporters of conventional education, modern tech-learning cheerleaders, doctors – agree that moderation is important.
“Some parents want to keep their child absolutely away from gadgets. I am not in favour of that,” says Suri. Because it is impossible to escape technology and its impact on our lives.
“But handing over tablets to toddlers as a formal tool in class, for them to use to learn their preliminaries – it is against their fine motor development, which is a child’s ability to control their body movements,” says Vaidyanathan.
So what then is the perfect age for a child to be exposed to the wonders of technology? “Toddlers, definitely not. Pre-schoolers, no,” she emphasises. “I would say early-primary is not a bad place. They should learn to hold a pencil before a stylus.”
Parents need to restrict their children’s screen time. The study by Pulp Strategy found that kids aged 5 and below are using mobile apps for a whopping 18-20 hours every week.
“A rationed exposure to technology is imperative. Irrespective of whether a child is given a tablet at two years of age or eight, s/he will pick it up instantly,” says Shaili Sathyu of Gillo Theatre Repertory. You don’t have to be worried about your child being left behind in this very digital world. You should be concerned about their natural growth, she says.
A good start would be to ban gadgets on school nights and set limits on weekends. “Because it is so engaging,” says Suri, “so there is always the risk that children can get obsessed with technology.”
In an interview, Steve Jobs, the late CEO of Apple, on being asked if his kids love the iPad, said, “They haven’t used it. We limit the technology our kids use at home.”
This should say something to parents who let children glow in the light of touch-screens.
Appy go lucky!
A few popular applications for children of different age groups
Kids Learn to Read
Available on: Windows, Android;
Intended for: Ages 3-7
The application helps pre-school children practise blending sounds together to read, and spell simple words
Developer: Yateland Kids Games;
Available on: Android, iOS;
Intended for: Ages 2-6
A good introduction to how the universe began and how life was born on earth
PicsArt for kids
Kids of all ages
A good app for colouring and drawing
- Recommended by Radhika Suri, director, Inspire Education
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From HT Brunch, April 26
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