It’s hardly news that the iPad is quickly becoming the toy of choice among infants and toddlers as the popularity of touchscreen apps targeting their age group continues to take off, prompting eager parents to hand over their devices to teach and entertain their kids with the latest technology. But what effect is this having on their brains?
According to Dr. Jordy Kaufman, founder and director of the Swinburne Baby Lab, the effect of iPads on children’s brain development is still largely unknown, but he hopes to remedy that with more specific research in a new study at his facility.
So far most warnings concerning children and iPads has been based on research involving TV viewing, which has shown to have a detrimental effect on children. However, TV and iPads have obvious differences, primarily in terms of interactivity, and Dr. Kaufman believes that to “assume it’s bad for all sorts of vices seems to be painting with an overly broad stroke.”
Dr. Kaufman’s study has so far tested 46 children ranging from four to six years old, examining their attention and problem-solving capabilities after using an iPad compared with using real toys. One test involves solving a problem using a wooden model, then solving the same problem using an iPad app. After they have finished, they are given a test to assess their attention. They are also participating in drawing, coloring and block building both physically and on iPads.
It is too early in the study to draw definitive conclusions, but preliminary findings have reportedly shown that for some children, touchscreens appear to motivate and enhance learning rather than hinder it. Results also indicate that creative activities on the iPad, such as painting, were similar to their physical counterparts and didn’t seem to adversely affect children’s behavior or attention in the short term.
So far, it seems that the iPad is at least better for your kids than television, and Dr. Kaufman is hoping that his study will help parents make more informed decisions. “Technology is changing so quickly, and what we really have to try to do from a science and societal perspective is try to have the research not lag too far behind that.”
[via The Age]