Some Insights on Toddlers and Tablets!
Most parents have profound concerns about their children reading digital books on tablets. In a new survey of 1,500 parents of under-eights in the UK about their attitudes to children’s use of technology and digital books at home, only 8% have no concerns about them using tablets to read.
By comparing the results with data from a similar survey conducted by the US-based Joan Ganz Cooney Center in 2014, the research also found that parents in the UK and US had different reasons for using or not using digital devices with their children. For example, more American than UK parents said that they use digital media together with their child to ensure they are not exposed to inappropriate content.
Another recent UK survey of 2,000 families found that 31% of children under the age of five have their own tablet at home. The report of the Tech and Play project at the University of Sheffield recommended that children have access to tablets in schools if they do not have a device at home. The researchers also encouraged development of better-designed apps for toddlers by informing developers about aspects that promote play and creativity.
The extent to which young children, especially those under the age of two, can actually learn and benefit from tablets’ use is currently being heavily debated by the American Association of Peadiatrics (APA), with an updated guidance due to be issued in autumn 2016.
Whatever the APA recommendations, family culture and parents’ perceptions profoundly shape the strategies they employ to support children’s actual technology use. With tablets and toddlers in particular, it is not just about who has access to what, but also about what parents think is important for their child.
But we need to urgently develop strategies to address the profound inequality gaps when it comes to using technology.