Baby with iPad: If baby is using an iPad, does it stimulate their learning? Or is it a detriment to their development? Although I was very much against exposing my baby to technology initially, I heard one perspective that convinced me that it may be extremely beneficial.

I don’t know what your experience has been with your kids and using things like cell phones and iPads but my daughter loves fiddling with them.  Even though I’m not sure she knows what she’s doing yet she can already do stuff I can’t.

She swipes from app to app, searches videos on youtube, turns on music from iTunes, and changes settings on me.

She is drawn to these devices from across the room and heaven forbid I use one in front of her and not let her play with it. Sometimes it’s full on tears when I don’t share.

Why I was initially against my baby using an iPad

Reason #1:  The benefits of interacting with real life objects and the natural environment seem so much more beneficial than learning games on an electronic device. She’ll get plenty of screen time during her life and I saw no need to rush into it.

Reason #2:  The radiation emitted from devices like iPads, cell phones, etc. is worrying. Although I can’t prevent all exposure to radiation it doesn’t make sense for me to actively promote direct interaction with devices that produce it.

The Typical Debate: Learning and Development

We’ve all heard that the amount of screen time children are exposed to has increased dramatically, and with that so has obesity. We also know that much of the screen time (especially television) is passive and the user’s brain activity decreases.

They are not using their imagination. It does not require thinking. It is truly passive.

Screens do not stimulate all 5 senses in the same way as other toys and activities. They are flat and smooth in texture. They have no taste or smell (although I will admit that my baby loves to lick my phone or ipad when I’m not paying attention!). The images are 2 dimensional and don’t require baby’s eyes to focus on items at differing distances. And focusing on the screen may strain developing eye muscles.

On the other hand, there are studies out there that suggest that playing interactive learning games using an iPad (or other electronic devices) may benefit a child’s development.

More and more schools are introducing tablets as a learning device and are going paperless where all assignments are digital.

The typical advice is to limit the amount of screen time a child gets to less than 2 hours per day and many go as far to say that no screen time is beneficial to children under age 2.

A Concern Not Typically Discussed: Radiation

For me, my primary concern was about the exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) (a type of radiation) from my iPad and cell phone, and anything wireless. There’s a long list of EMF sources that surround us throughout our day.

During the first 1-2 weeks of Hailey’s life, her discomfort around electronic devices was noticeable. She would get agitated if I was holding her while texting or playing a game. Both my husband and I noticed this.  However, after a couple of weeks she no longer appeared to be affected by it. Maybe she just got used to it.

While it’s impossible to eliminate exposure to EMF’s (they’re everywhere), radiation exposure decreases with distance. Cell phones and iPads (tablets) are of particular concern to me because we hold them, have them in our laps or pressed up against our heads.

Distance from these devices are impossible if you want to use them! And most of us use them many times each day.

This excerpt was taken from Apple’s iPad Important Product Information Guide and describes the precautions that should be taken to limit radio frequency (RF) (a type of electromagnetic field) exposure.

“Orient the device in portrait mode with the Home button at the bottom of the display, or in landscape mode with the cellular antenna (located under the black edge at the top of the device) away from your body or other objects…..If you are still concerned about exposure to RF energy, you can further limit your exposure by limiting the amount of time using iPad Wi-Fi + 3G in wireless mode, since time is a factor in how much exposure a person receives, and by placing more distance between your body and iPad Wi-Fi + 3G, sin”

I will note that this is 2010 information and I could not find anything as descriptive in the fine print for the newer models. They seem to have shifted their information to providing the numbers only and stating that they fall within legal limits rather than going over the precautions.

The Perspective that Changed my Mind

I’m a huge fan of the Teachings of Abraham. I was listening to one of their audios on youtube a while back that specifically discussed the use of technology by children.

They explained the use of technology in a way I’ve never heard. They explained it as almost a necessity for advancing our society.

  • Children come into this existence already knowing.  Each generation is here to expand on the work and knowledge from the previous generation. But they don’t have to relearn everything or reinvent anything.
    • Most of us have observed the ease at which children use technology. Their understanding surpasses many adults even though they have had no formal training.
  • Children intuitively understand technology because they are tapped into the collective consciousness (all of our learning/knowledge/thought on the planet). They know how to access the large knowledge bank that we’ve already established. This connection to the collective consciousness is one way of explained how children can just know how to use technological devices.
  • Children start from where we are and will launch us further down the road of discovery. They come into this world to springboard off of the foundation we’ve already laid. This will propel the advancement of humankind.
  • Right now technology is the main big advancement in our society. It is cutting edge. Globally, technological advancement is how our civilization is progressing.
    • It’s fascinating to most of us and technological advances are a large focus of our current generation. This is why children are so interested and fascinated by technology. They are picking up on the momentum that we’ve built.

The Conclusion I’ve Come to

The idea that the evolution and advancement of technology means progress in our world and that children are here to further that progress really makes sense to me.

Even though I have personally resisted technology in many ways (I got my first smart phone last year) I can’t deny that technology is being embraced globally and as a society we are excited about its progress.

It’s for this reason I let my daughter play with my iPad.

She’s a little too young to be doing learning games but I believe she’s learning.

I’m not necessarily convinced of the benefits of learning games on electronic devices (I’ll look more into it when she’s older). However, I’m not sure it matters.

Does it matter whether she’s learning numbers and colours or rather how to use and be comfortable with technology?

I still believe in moderation. She’s only on it a few minutes a day right now but she’s not even 1 year old.

The important thing is that although I’m still uncomfortable with the radiation I’m no longer afraid of it. I can see that there’s a benefit for her development.

This is just another example of risk assessment and if the risk worth the reward.

Question: Do you let your kids play with cell phones and tablets? Post your answers in the comments section below.