Smartphones and tablets are simply ubiquitous. As a consequence, children are using them more often and at increasingly young ages, whether the actual versions or toys designed to imitate adult devices. Many if not most of us have likely witnessed a young child in our life seemingly addicted to using them.
When is the right time to introduce a smartphone or tablet to a child? According to PBS, some experts suggest waiting at least until preschool, as “children under two years of age learn best from real-world experiences and interactions, and each minute spent in front of a screen-based device is a minute your child is not exploring the world and using their senses, which is extremely important in their development.” Other experts unsurprisingly suggest waiting much longer.
An internet search will return a lot more negatives about children using these devices than positives (i.e. it limits their creativity, causes less sleep, causes addiction, indirectly contributes to obesity, etc.), and understandably so. However, the learning benefits are also numerous and real with many classrooms integrating similar devices into their curriculum. While opinions vary widely on the utility of smartphones and tablets being used by children, society’s widespread use of them is not stopping any time soon. Millions of parents will continue to be faced with the decision of when and if to integrate them into their children’s’ lives.