By: Chris O'Shea
Most new parents will tell you that at first, they had plans to never let their kid watch TV or use electronics like an iPad. Then, for one reason or another, the little one caught a glimpse of the great, glowing machine, and was…. Quiet. That's the beginning of the end. Suddenly parents are shoving iPads in front of their kids every chance they get, which is, according to teachers, a big problem.
London's Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) is putting out the warning: Kids are becoming addicted to iPads and electronics, and they're not learning the basic movements and skills they need to because they're glued to their screens. The group, speaking at their annual teacher's conference, warned of little kids who can control the latest touch-screen technology but can't play with the most rudimentary of children's physical toys.
“I have spoken to a number of nursery teachers who have concerns over the increasing numbers of young pupils who can swipe a screen but have little or no manipulative skills to play with building blocks or the like, or the pupils who cannot socialize with other pupils but whose parents talk proudly of their ability to use a tablet or smartphone,” one teacher, Colin Kinney, explained, according to United Press International. "Teachers talk of students who come into their classrooms having spent most of the previous night playing computer games and their attention spans are so limited they might as well not be there," added Kinney.
Another speaker, Mike Montgomery, said that research had linked overexposure to technology to obesity and even violence, and called upon parents and teachers do be wary. "It is our job to make sure that the technology is being used wisely and productively and that pupils are not making backward steps and getting obsessed and exhibiting aggressive and antisocial behaviours,” said Montgomery, according to The Telegraph. “In the same way we can use a brick to either break a window or build a house, digital technology can be used for good or bad, and teachers can and should help their pupils make positive choices so they have positive experiences."
The group has a point, but only sort of. Technology should be limited, but only to a certain extent. Not allowing kids to use iPads and similar electronics will only hurt them down the line, not help them. The answer, like most things in life, is not to freak out and proclaim iPads the devil. The answer is to make sure parents and teachers know the old adage — everything in moderation. While too much time with iPads is surely a bad thing for kids, too little time is as well.
[Image via Flickr - Brad Flickinger]