My almost 2 year old uses a soother just for bed time. You can ask him and he’ll pull the plug and hand it to you, no worries. My dentist is pleased (although he would like us to pull the binky permanently).

However, if my son has an iPad and you ask him to hand it to you, it’s not going to happen. You can’t even take the iPad and replace with an iPhone, he knows which one he wants and he’s not ready to give it up.

The dependance we now have on technology to entertain our kids has led to some experts calling tablets “digital pacifiers.”

As much as kids enjoy playing with an iPad, parents should limit the amount of time they spend plopped down with the device, said Gwenn O’Keeffe, a pediatrician in Boston who has studied the effects of technology on children and works with the American Academy of Pediatrics. Toddlers under 2 shouldn’t play with an iPad unless it’s only being used to display books, she said.

Victoria Nash, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute who also has studied the topic, said some parents use gadgets as a “digital pacifier.”

“We know already that there are dangers with watching too much television and doing too much online gaming,” she said.

One of the effects of too much screen time is a delay in speech development. My 23 month old only has a handful of words, most of them not fully formed. There is no doubt my younger son’s speech is behind the development my older son (no iPad) showed.

Still, the iPad is a treat for the couch or the playroom in our house. We don’t have a minivan that will blast Dora, Diego, and the Wonder Pets every time the family gets loaded up to go to the grocery store. And when we get there, I don’t hand them an iPhone to stare at while I wander the aisles.

Some swing the meter far to the other side. Waldorf Schools don’t allow any access to technology until 8th grade, and encourage parents to continue that ideology at home.

Waldorf schools … subscribe to a teaching philosophy focused on physical activity and learning through creative, hands-on tasks. Those who endorse this approach say computers inhibit creative thinking, movement, human interaction and attention spans.

The Waldorf method is nearly a century old, but its foothold here among the digerati puts into sharp relief an intensifying debate about the role of computers in education.

“I fundamentally reject the notion you need technology aids in grammar school,” said Alan Eagle, 50, whose daughter, Andie, is one of the 196 children at the Waldorf elementary school; his son William, 13, is at the nearby middle school. “The idea that an app on an iPad can better teach my kids to read or do arithmetic, that’s ridiculous.”

I’m trying to strike a balance between digital and analog play for my children. Along with the digital books that we share, I still turn pages and my iPhone attached son equally loves the time he spends on my lap reading books by Oliver Jeffers.

If you think your kid is spending too much time on their iPad and not enough time outside getting some exercise, don’t blame the iPad. Before the iPad, they were playing video games, and before video games they were watching TV, and before TV they were reading comic books. Throughout history, you will uncover generations of youth who would rather sit around and play than go outside and play.

It’s not technologies’ fault that a kid is lazy… it comes down to parenting, values and the child’s disposition.
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How do you handle technology in your home? Video games, iPads, iPods, Gameboys, TVs, etc ..

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  1. dave December 11, 2011 at 6:40 am

    Uh oh 🙂 – its 7:20am, kids came into our bed at 7, and to keep the peace (allow a few mins for us to wake-up), my 6 year old has my iphone, my 3.5 year old has my wifes iphone, and I’m reading this on my BB between 2 massive stuffed animals…

    I take solace in some educational value, they are both playing ‘gelato mania’ – have to make ice cream cones look like the displayed picture, requires skill in intrepretation and process ordering, so some educational value, however now gotta go feed the gremlins!

  2. Leslie December 11, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    My son has played iPhone since before age 1 and people have always commented on his breadth of vocabulary. It’s just as likely that your youngest doesn’t have a lot of words because big brother does the talking for him. Speech delay is common in second siblings.

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