What’s happening in a toddler’s brain while using an Apple iPad?

“More than half of the young children in the U.S. now have access to an iPad, iPhone or similar touch-screen device. For parents, their children’s love of these devices raises a lot of questions,” Ben Worthen reports for The Wall Street Journal. “Kids for years have sat too close to the television for too long or played hours of Madden on family room game players. But pediatric neuroscientists and researchers who have studied the effects of screen-time on children suggest the iPad is a different beast.”

“A well-designed iPad app is more engaging because often the place on the screen that a child touches is the same as where the action happens,” Worthen reports. “Many researchers hope this will help children learn. One study using an iPod Touch and sponsored by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop found children 4- to 7-years-old improved on a vocabulary test after using an educational app called “Martha Speaks.” The 13 5-year-olds tested averaged a 27% gain. A study using a different educational app had a similar result, with 3-year-olds exhibiting a 17% gain.”

Worthen reports, “Some parents readily share a tablet with their children, citing the many apps marketed as educational tools. Some do not. Still other families turn to it as a tool of last resort to entertain and appease children on plane and car trips. In the list of parental worries about tablet use: that it will make kids more sedentary and less sociable. There’s also the mystery of just what is happening in a child’s brain while using the device.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dialtone” for the heads up.]


  1. They are correct about the not being sociable, I have socially triggered anxiety attacks because I whatched a lot of history and discover channel when I was young but almost no cartoons…. I am extremely advanced in math and science but I have horrible social skills.

  2. I’m open to my kids using an iPad on a VERY limited basis. I let my 6 & 3 year old play on their iPads for 30-40 mins a day on the weekends and none during the week.

    My 3 year old seems to like them too much. He has been potty trained for a long time and NEVER had an accident, however twice while using the iPad, he wet his pants within 10 minutes of using it. Now we make him go potty before we let him play on the iPad. I would really like to know what is going on in his head for him to let that happen. Something in his brain is shutting down and he just looses control. It’s troubling, but very interesting at the same time. If it happens again, I think I’m gong to have to ban him from using it for a while.

    1. All things in moderation.
      You are wise to limit the use of the device.

      An outright ban of the device is punishment and will not understand your reasoning like an adult. So, ween him off it slowly.

      My suggestion to do this is just let the battery die. And teach your child the iPad needs food and rest the same as he does.

    2. Video games, even educational ones, are addictive. Even adults can have incontinence issues while playing games. A child without a fully developed bladder will all the more so have issues.

  3. Edu-tainment, proven that a teacher with the right enthusiasm can truly make the difference.

    The simplicity of iOS and iPad allow people to get to the task at hand rather than worry how first to use it.

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