While technological advances have increased the use of smartphones and tablets around the world, many parents feel that their extended use is not in the best interest of their child. Experts too, it seems, are uncertain concerning the effects that using these devices at an early age can have, but parents continue to buy devices for their kids to ensure they’re well-prepared for the future.
36% of children under the age of one in the US have experience using a mobile device such as a tablet or smartphone, reports Tyler Lee for Ubergizmo.
A recent survey saw researchers interviewing 35 parents and guardians in order to determine their views pertaining to mobile device use by themselves as well as their children. Parents were asked a series of questions pertaining to what they thought the benefits or drawbacks were to using such devices and how they influenced family interactions. Questions were asked about technology and parenting such as rules parents had set concerning the use of devices.
“One of the striking things about these interviews was that parents thanked us for letting them take part … for letting them vent their strong feelings and uncertainties about parenting and technology, and for letting them speak with other parents who were going through similar experiences,” said lead author Jenny Radesky, M.D., F.A.A.P., assistant professor of pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine.
As a result of the study, researchers discovered that for the most part, parents felt pressure to purchase the latest technology for their children to keep them up to date with the demands of the educational system and the workforce.
However, parents also showed concern for the amount of time their children spent using the devices, saying their children appeared to be “hooked” or “addicted.” Many felt that spending too much time staring at a screen would impact their child’s social skills.
Others reported feeling that technology use would hinder their child’s ability to think creatively or independently.
In addition, lower-income families said it was difficult to keep up with the apps or social media their children were using, and they did not feel they had the power to limit what their children used their devices for.
The research did not point only to bad results. Parents reported that the devices allowed their children to learn what they may not have tried to do in “real life,” such as putting together a puzzle. In addition, parents were happy that apps cost significantly less than toys, kept their children calm in otherwise stressful situations, and allowed relationships to be established with distant family members.
“Tech for young children is evolving faster than scientific research can study its effects, and this study helps pediatric providers understand the experience and concerns of a diverse group of parents, so that we can give them the most relevant, and hopefully helpful, guidance possible,” Radesky said.