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Are iPads making children Slow to Learn?

Posted by Peter Barnes on June 17, 2014 at 11:36 AM

“iPad Kids’ Speech Fear – tablets & technology blamed for developmental impairment”.  

This was the front page headline on Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, June 14, 2014.

Should parents really fear that iPads and other technology are causing learning difficulties for their children? Are there actually more children starting school with speech delays and an inability to make certain sounds, as the Daily Telegraph article stated?


Don’t Panic

Before you panic about your child’s future and ban iPads completely, here is our take on the issue. There is no need to panic! Children’s screen time should definitely be limited.

But the real issue is not screen time but “parent - child” time.  Especially parents taking more time to talk to their children.

We are not sure how much solid evidence there is that more children are starting school with speech problems.  No doubt some schools and teachers may have noticed an increase.

Let’s assume that the anecdotal reports from teachers are the tip of the iceberg of speech and language impaired children. So if there are more children with learning difficulties or language & learning delay because they have not learnt to make all the speech sounds of our English language, is that caused by iPads, iPhones, computers and other electronic devices? 

No, it’s not caused by these devices. The cause is that some parents are letting children spend time interacting with screens when they should be speaking to their children.

It is very tempting for busy parents to use an iPad to entertain their children, especially when many children just love interacting with iPads and other tablet devices.

Research has clearly established that children need interaction with humans to learn language. The more parents talk to their young children, the more language the child will learn.

Good language skills are vital for learning. About 80% of classroom instruction is via talking. And as reading is a language skill, children who have poor language skills will have difficulty learning to read well. Studies have shown children with low language competency at start of school can be up to 5 years behind other students in reading by the age of 15 years.

Don’t let headlines like the one in the Daily Telegraph make you anxious about technology. Just let the headlines remind you to spend more time talking to your children!


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Topics: Learning Difficulties

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