Effects of iPad on Children

February 18, 2012

Although it was so long ago, I still feel that Steve Jobs’ death is quite sudden. Frankly speaking, as most of the people, I nearly knew nothing about this guy except that I use his products. Once attracted by the MPH promotion I got his biography by Walter Isaacson. I’ve been reading it these days (very slowly cuz I don’t really have time) and found that this guy was more amazing than I thought. It’s not exaggerated to say that he has changed the world technology, or maybe not only the technology. Take time to watch carefully every little part of your iWhatever and you’ll sense his passion and perfectionism. iPad is star in Apple history. Launched two years before he died, 3 million were sold within the first 80 days.  By the release of the iPad2 in March 2011, more than 15 million iPads had been sold—selling more than all other tablet PCs combined since the iPad’s release.  In 2011, it is expected to take 83% of the tablet computing market share in the United States. During the fourth quarter of 2011, Apple sold 15.4 million iPads. (From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPad.)  While I’m not here to talk about Steve Jobs or advertise for Apple. The reason why I give these numbers is that the number of its children users is increasing.

It turns out that its multi-touch function is attractive to children and more and more apps are designed for their age. Through the years, iPad has become a popular holiday gift and parents use it as an electronic babysitter to keep their kids quiet. So now it’s not rare to see a 4-year-old child playing iPad in Singapore or maybe many other countries in the world. But how will this affect children?

The effects have both positive and negative parts. Getting engaged with high-tech devices may open children’s horizon and spark their imagination. It may provoke their interest of technology. It may also give them a higher starting point in their future career. Say, if they become software engineers in the future, they’ll definitely have more advantage to those who need to study the market from scratch. However, there’re also negative examples. Once a father complained online about this son’s addiction to iPad. He said that his son spends whole day playing with Puppet Pals which is  free app that lets you create animated cartoons and would only reply him after repeating the same sentence three times. Of course, due to different characteristics family background of children, in some case there will be addiction. Children may become dependent on iPad so that they may be depressed if someone take their iPads away. Another likely psychological problem is autism. The more time they spend on iPad, the less they’ll have with friends and family. Childhood is the most important period to practice how to communicate with and care for others.  They may not be autistic in the end but their communication skills may be very poor. These are what we don’t want. But unfortunately, when most of the IT products come out, the companies care more about business issues rather than these side effects on certain groups of people. This is quite similar to the discussion over whether TV is bad for children several decades ago. As we cannot reverse the technology back just in order to prevent possible harm to children, parents have the most responsibility. They should spend more time with their children and limit the time that their children can spend on iPads. On the other hand, iPad is a good learning tool. Parents should lead the way their children using it. For example, downloading eBooks for them to read and other educational games or audio / video apps.  Only in this way can the harm be minimized and the utility be maximized.

Leave a Reply