iPad use by kids younger than 2 may be just fine

March 20, 2014

A pediatrician who is an expert on the effects of media on children-and who, not incidentally, helped write the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines on restricting media use by children aged younger than 2 years-says that 30 to 60 minutes per day spent using an iPad or similar device may be just fine for the age group.

 

A pediatrician who is an expert on the effects of media on children-and who, not incidentally, helped write the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines on restricting media use by children aged younger than 2 years-says that 30 to 60 minutes per day spent using an iPad or similar device may be just fine for the age group.

A key factor, explains Dimitri A. Christakis, MD, MPH, in an opinion piece in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, is whether the time is spent engaging in interactive play or spent passively viewing. Interacting with a game on an iPad or other tablet is very different from just sitting and viewing a screen, he says.

He also points out that when the AAP Council on Communications and Media updated the original 1999 guidelines, devices such as iPads didn’t exist, and that now, 4 years after the iPad’s debut, we still know relatively little about how these technologies influence the way children’s brains develop and learn.

Christakis puts forth that in addition to interactivity, other factors influencing whether media use is beneficial or a waste of time include:

1. Can the device/app respond differently to different actions of the child?

2. Can the device/app behave differently for each child or each time it is used?

3. Can the device/app move a child along a continuum that advances in complexity?

4. Does the device/app enable or facilitate adults and children playing together?

5. Is the device transported easily and available in different venues?

Experts still advise that caregivers monitor their children’s use of such devices and set limits so that device time doesn’t interfere with time spent on social and physical activities. 

 

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