Toddlers and Tablets – Part 2

In part one of Tablets for Toddlers? we discussed the things parents need to consider when deciding if their little ones should be using their tablet (or smart phone or pc).  We continue that discussion here with a look at alone versus assisted use  of a tablet and finally ergonomic issues.

Alone versus assisted

There are some wonderful opportunities to help your toddler learn using apps.  But you have to be there playing along with them to get the biggest value from it.  I know that most apps purport to teach your child all on their own, and maybe some do; however, there is no substitute for a little time with mom or dad helping junior learn with the tablet.  I mentioned the art app and helping little ones learn colors, shapes, etc.  There are variations of this with almost every toddler app.  I found one last night where kids choose the right clothes, hats and shoes for a doll who tries out various professions.  On it's own, it might be entertaining, but with mom or dad talking about the colors of the clothes, the professions and what they mean, asking questions that cause the little one to think; it becomes more of a learning experience.  And it sets the stage for junior to think about what you have discussed when she is playing with the app on her own.

 

Ergonomic issues

I believe that childhood ergonomic overuse injuries will be one of the biggest problems for kids in the coming years.  Many adults who rely on heavy keyboarding for work and have experienced the problems, and perhaps permanent nerve damage, of repetitive motion injuries, already know that carpal can be life impacting.  Adults already have developed bones, ligaments and nerves.  Children do not.  I am not aware of any study that examines the impact of continual electronic device usage with poor ergonomics and its effect on developing bodies.  I developed a corporate "Office Ergonomics" program when I was an executive with a telecom corporation after we saw huge numbers of our employees impacted by painful (and costly) overuse injuries at the computer keyboard and screen.  It isn't difficult to use proper ergonomics (hand and body positioning), but you have to know how to do it.  If you have children using any type of electronic device, I encourage you to learn about proper ergonomic positioning, buy the proper accessories to help keep your children's bodies safe, and make sure that they do what they need to do to avoid an overuse injury.

Addiction

Finally, there is the issue of addiction.  As I mentioned in part one of this series, it might sound funny but it isn't if your child is experiencing it.  And you are dealing with it with them.   Many adults are addicted to their games, smart phones and other electronic devices - truly.  A lot of kids are too.   It's important to observe your toddler and their reaction to their "game" or "art" or "show" and take the necessary steps to insure that it is not becoming an addiction but rather a small component of their overall day.  How do you know if you have a problem?  If your child constantly wants his "game" and throws violent inconsolable fits when he doesn't get it, you might have an issue.  If you can't distract him from the "game" to do other things, you probably want to think about if this is good for him or not.   You know your child better than anyone and you know when it is a problem.

 

Summary

We live in an age where there are electronic tools to help us with almost everything, including helping our children learn.  Tablets and the apps that go with them can be a good resource for you and your children if used the right way.  I am continuing to experiment with apps for my little girl but I still haven't decided if this is something that we will continue to do going forward.  Take some time to think about the best ways to use your electronic devices for both learning and entertainment.  And, above all else, keep you family safe.

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