The Baby vs. The iPad

This is a big fat no-no. Image credit to: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

This is a big fat no-no.
Image credit to: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

This goes without saying, but nowadays, we are surrounded by technology. Not just surrounded, but it is virtually (get it?) shoved in our faces. Typically, it’s fairly hard for a fully functioning adult to avoid it. However, just because we as adults are surrounded by it does not mean the little younglings need to be surrounded by it as well.

When I turned on the news (if you can even call it that) this morning, ABC’s Good Morning America was covering a story on the baby’s first iPad. After my initial laughter at GMA’s attempts at a newsworthy story, I was appalled to see Fisher-Price’s newest creation: a baby bouncer with a holder built in for an iPad (the iBouncy chair). But wait, there’s more! The company is also featuring free apps and videos for download, customized just for your precious baby.

This is purely my own personal opinion, but I see no reason why babies, toddlers, and young children need to be exposed to technology such as an iPad. Whatever happened to that thing called your imagination? Why are we so quick to want to strip children of the ability to develop their own version of play and creativity on their own. Instead, we want them to be subdued by the bright lights and flashing colors off of an Apple product. I’m sure that’s going to do wonders for the upcoming generations.

Thankfully however, some parents and people in general have been pushing back. Many believe that this is a terrible product for a baby, and ultimately, an easy way out for parents.

No, I am not a mother, so I do not have that direct personal experience with the obstacles that come with the joys(?) of raising a child, but I do know how my parents did it, and personally, it worked pretty damn well for my sister and me. While we were limited to 30 minutes of television on weekdays, as babies, we knew technology to be nonexistent. Instead, we banged on pots and pans and pretended to cook using our mom’s Tupperware sets. And even had that long forgotten thing known as human interaction. No matter what age, my parents sat down with my sister and me every night for dinner and we all ate together, and then as we progressed from infants to toddlers, my parents would sit with us before bed and read to us. And both of my parents had (and have) fulltime jobs – so that leads me to wonder why we need to resort to an iPad to keep a baby at bay. Here’s a suggestion that works even for single parents: if you’re running low on time and need to eat or take a shower, you can have your child in a baby bouncer (near you so you can see them through the shower), but give them some building blocks or some plastic cups to play with or – depending on your child’s age – some Cheerios to munch on. I mean, isn’t that the way things used to be done? And to be frank, I do miss the way things used to be – as far as I can tell, the up and coming generations and our society as a whole are just tumbling downhill.

And it’s not just me thinking that the old-fashioned way is the better way. While children’s (under the age of two) use of digital devices has skyrocketed from 10 percent in 2011 to 38 percent in 2013, the American Academy of Pediatrics continues to uphold their recommendations that children under the age of two should have zero exposure to screen time from tech gear. However, those in product design at Fisher-Price stress that their technology is different than plopping your child in front of the television. Rather than see that glazed over look on your child’s face, Fisher-Price states that they focus on making a child’s screen time interactive…similar to the interaction that a child receives when reading a book with their parent. I’ll believe that when I see it – and to date, no studies have been done to prove that this “interactive” screen time is better than a book.

In fact, more studies have been done to show how a baby’s creativity and imagination are stunted thanks to exposure to technology. By providing an infant with an iPad, you are essentially locking that baby into the digital universe, and because screen time has addictive qualities, said baby loses out on other opportunities to develop his or her sense of social play, role play, and object play. Not only that, but an infant’s sensory and motor systems are not biologically evolved enough to comprehend technology, no matter how pacified they might look by the iPad six inches from their face. And as I mentioned before, screen time has addictive qualities for children, so the more parents turn to technology to entertain their children, the more addicted these children become, and as they age, they run the risk of being too glued to a screen and less prone to other more important things such as exercise and all around healthy living habits (which explains why Canada and the U.S. have both classified child obesity and diabetes as national epidemics).

In order to ensure healthy child development, four types of sensory inputs are needed: touch, movement, human connection, and exposure to nature. Most young children need at least two to three hours per day of active play to gain enough sensory stimulation to further the development of their vestibular, proprioceptive, and tactile systems (again, I’ll just use this point to stress the point of human interaction even further).

Because so many parents are turning to technology to satisfy their infant or toddler or young child, we are seeing a major rise in autism, developmental delays, learning difficulties, ADHD, and even anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. So while I may not be an expert in childcare, I’ll let the facts speak for themselves. To all parents out there, put down the iPad and pick up your child. Talk to them, play with them, parent them. We were never meant to be raised by iPads or robots or drones or any means of technology. We live in a human society, so let’s raise our kids in the most humane way possible.

And I think this goes without saying, but please don’t buy that new baby bouncer. Thanks. Much love.

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