With children as young as one or two now using touchscreen devices such as tablets, phones and computers on a regular basis, parents are understandably very worried about the effect that these devices will have on their children. Will their children learn more or less as the result of these devices? Will they fall behind socially? These are very valid questions to ask.
The truth is that because touchscreen devices are still so new, there haven't yet been any significant studies on the way they affect child development. Parents, teachers and scientists can guess how children are being affected by comparing the milestones of children who use touchscreens and children who don’t, but there is no way of knowing for sure what a child would do without a touchscreen device. There are simply too many variables at play to make speculation very helpful.
What Can You Do?
So how should parents respond to the widespread use of touchscreen devices? Should they get rid of them altogether? Thankfully, that would generally be considered a bit drastic. After all, we have no evidence that touch screens are harmful. We do know that they are a lot of fun, and kids can learn by using them.
A more even approach, then, would be to limit the amount of time our children spend on them each day. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that children should not have any screen time before the age of two. Although they have since stated that there is a difference between passive and active use of devices, they haven't spoken up to clarify specific recommendations for touchscreens.
Therefore, it is up to the parents to set proper boundaries. Many parents do this by setting time limits each day, such as only 30 minutes per day, or by only allowing their children to have them on the weekends or after their homework and chores are complete. Other parents choose to use the devices with their children, so that their children still receive some degree of social interaction.
Whatever decision you make for your family, the fact is that touchscreen devices aren't going away anytime soon. Therefore, it's up to you to set proper limits and boundaries to make sure that they are used positively, without all of the negative side effects.