Children ‘unable to use toy building blocks’ due to ‘iPad addiction,’ teachers association warns

“Rising numbers of infants lack the motor skills needed to play with building blocks because of an ‘addiction’ to tablet computers and smartphones, according to teachers,” Graeme Paton reports for The Telegraph. “Many children aged just three or four can ‘swipe a screen’ but have little or no dexterity in their fingers after spending hours glued to iPads, it was claimed. Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers also warned how some older children were unable to complete traditional pen and paper exams because their memory had been eroded by overexposure to screen-based technology.”

“The comments were made after Ofcom figures showed the proportion of households with tablet computers more than doubled from 20 to 51 per cent last year,” Paton reports. “Experts have warned that the growth is having a serious effect on children’s social and physical development. Last year, a doctor claimed that rising numbers of young people – including one aged just four – required therapy for compulsive behaviour after being exposed to the internet and digital devices from birth.”

“The ATL backed plans to draw up new guidance to be issued to teachers and parents showing the ‘best way forward’ when dealing with children who are ‘addicted’ to iPads and iPhones,” Paton reports. “Mark Montgomery, a teacher from Northern Ireland, said overexposure to technology had been linked to weight gain, aggressive behaviour, tiredness and repetitive strain injury. He called on parents to turn home wi-fi off overnight to stop children staying awake to play online games on iPads.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: iPad is a tool. Success or failure depends on how a tool is used. A hammer can drive nails or pound thumbs.

Children can learn to read and write, do math, draw and paint, create music and movies, and much more with an iPad in hand – we’ve seen it – or they can learn how to play Flappy Bird – about which we’ve just read.

As always, and with just about everything, it comes down to the parents.


      1. What data? The article only has one percentage, that tablet usage doubled in one year. Other than that “a teacher said” “some students” “a doctor claimed” “it was claimed”. The person writing this “blog” might get educated on statistical analysis before decrying the woes of kids with tablets.

        1. I’m referring to television…

          Just look at the number of fat ass kids (and adults) that can’t climb a tree, swim, ride a bicycle etc. Put a hammer or axe in their hands and they are useless.

          Seriously, do you think were on an upward trend as far as dexterity is concerned.

          Oh yes…
          ninja thumbs… the 4 finger swipe of death. /s

        2. TV is not the only factor in what you describe. The whole environment has changed. Nowadays, parents are afraid to let kids play outside, or let them walk to school alone. They are afraid to let kids near tools, or let them use all kinds of things as toys, lest they are injured or exposed to ‘dangerous’ chemicals.

          TV may have in influence there as the parents have swallowed the FUD the spews hook, line, and sinker, but the mere presence, or the enjoyment of its programs, of TV did not cause this development.

        3. If a parent does let their kids do any of those thing, someone will call a social representative on them, who will come along, judge you an unfit guardian and take them away.

        4. Please, blame lazyness first. A high percentage of people are obese, stupid, gas guzzling, Android buying, Vizio buying, morons with little to no real education because they are F’ing LAZY. LAZY LAZY LAZY!
          The path to the Dark Side methinks!

        5. Wait. Nothing wrong with Vizio!

          And a parent that lets an infant play with a $400 tablet needs their head examined. One thing to have a prodigy that is learning to code. Another to create a generation of slugs.

        6. What data? It’s a fair question. This goes deeper than TV or bad parenting. As a psychologist, parent, and huge lover of Apple products, I’m tracking this a lot. And though I know many will shred this reflexively to defend Apple without even considering what’s happening, I post it for the few who may experience the same chill I have and consider making changes. Some starter data and an argument that this subject is neurological, not just sociological:

  1. Today’s parents are too soft. They really need to up their game. If I had kids, I would make them read books, and just do the whole “spend time with them” thing today’s parents never do. I would take them to Central Park every weekend, and let them enjoy nature…and maybe even take them to the nearby Met for some art appreciation. And no, living out in the ‘boonies is no excuse to deprive your kid of culture. Would it kill you to drive at least one hour to a nearby city to give your kid access to art and culture.? No wonder so many suburbanites/small townies seem so ignorant. They don’t have the will to drive to a nearby city, and blame it on “being too far”, and sit on their asses and play “Angry Birds”. I would never deprive my kids of that experience. Tech should never be a baby sitter.

    1. They don’t even have the will to take the iPad away and get the child to play outside…hell, too many of them WON’T let their kid play outside because “it’s dangerous out there, the child might get hurt or taken”.

    2. You do know that technology can be a great tool if you live out in a small town or suburb, right? Not everyone has access to great museums and parks, so the Internet is the next best thing. Some people might even live out in the middle of nowhere, like the Alaskan bush. Please don’t write off technology completely. It has given opportunity to people who can’t access these institutions.

      1. Well…I will say it’s the closest thing, I guess. You gotta understand that I am from the South Bronx. Do you expect me to go to Yellowstone everyday? Come on now…

    3. Wow! Truly spoken like someone who has no kids of their own. Have a kid, then get a clue how difficult it is to raise them in this day and age. I would love to see how much your Pollyanna view of child rearing changes once you experience it from the other side!

      1. I know that it seems difficult to raise children in this day and age and it seems practical and easier to just give in to the children. We must accustom our children to hardships in life and teach them how to respect the word no sometimes. Delayed gratification skills lead to successful adults (see marshmallow studies) and must be taught in infancy through the teen years to bear fruit in later life.

        Yes, w raised twins (b & g) who are 18 now and made a few mistakes along the way but these principles stood us well.

        1. It doesn’t seem, it is. There is 6 years separating my son and daughter, and the differences in society between when he was 9 and when she was 9 was immense, and still is 5 years later. It doesn’t get easier, it gets harder every year! When notebooks are found detailing how a particular student is going to come to school and emulate tragedies that have transpired around the country I cannot allow my daughter the same freedoms as I allowed my son. And when people who spout off like they know what it is like to raise a child and what is right and wrong about parenting, yet have NO kids themselves, well that more than just pisses me off. Have a kid, have an opinion, because until you are trying to raise a kid you have NO effing idea of what you are speaking of.

        2. however, in His infinite wisdom, He selected a Canadian (I would question His wisdom on that) to profess this hope for all parents:

          “Grandchildren are God’s gift for not killing your own children when they were teenagers.”

        3. I can’t believe you truly think that…by that reasoning, without the “moral contrivance” you mention, it would certainly be acceptable for gangs of men to rape the weaker gender in order to “perpetuate the species.” The difference between love and sex. The difference between human beings and jackals.

        4. Of course I don’t think that. Or at least not today. I may have been channeling an unsympathetic spinster or having a Dawkins moment. Or the aphorism’s irony quotient may have been so dilute as to rob it of clarity.

          I see everything human as part of some moral equation, usually solvable only by approximations.

    4. I find it hilarious when people without kids tell everyone with kids how to raise them.

      Until you have kids you have no clue what is really involved and no your dog is not even close to the same thing.

    5. I find it more insulting that urbanites have to impose their views on what is “hip”, “cool”, and “sophisticated”, then tell us “flyover” residents that we are somehow inferior, or immoral compared to those hip urbanites. I am from suburban Minnesota, classic Middle America, and I have a massive fanbase from around the world. My comic is insanely popular, even though I am from Flyover Country.

    6. All external accounts report that my wife and I have three great kids (20, 18, 15). We are very actively involved in their lives and therefore involved with many like-minded parents. One thing we consistently observe of new parents is a dawning realization when the second child comes along that children are people first and children second. This is not an academic realization but a visceral one. In the relative peace of the day they realize that this child of theirs has a mind of it’s own, a will, and a need to be both protected by his/her parents and also independent of them. The implications of this seemingly simple fact are far-reaching and constant. A non-obvious phase of parenting begins around the time a child begins thinking beyond high school, as it forces the parents to think beyond their time as primary adult figures in their children’s lives. Parenting may well be the most important job one can undertake, but it does not last forever. And so while you might think that parents should unreservedly dedicate their entire waking lives to the betterment of their children, this really isn’t possible nor is it necessarily good for the children. A role model parent is involved in bettering their world around them, which requires time away from the children. They are also engaged in personal pursuits that will outlast their parenting days but which also make them more interesting people for their children to learn from.

      And I share all of this with you without the benefit (yet) of watching my children raise their own and remake my mistakes and their own new ones.

      Please don’t paint such a wide swath as to assert that today’s parents are too soft, or that the job is easy (or that doing it “right” is easy). I hope you get to experience the joy of raising children and that someday you will share your learned wisdom from doing so with the world.

  2. Wow! They said almost the same thing when we went from radio to TV and children lost the use of their imagination because the TV showed them everything on those damned 13″ screens.

    Of course, prior to TV, radio was damned because you listened to drama shows instead of reading the books.

    Don’t get me started on hand held calculators verses pen and paper, telephone calls verses letter writing, bicycle verses walking, elevator verses walking, the list goes on and on.

    When kids have to wear helmets to walk to school I’m really going to be pissed off.

    1. What about Ancient Roman teens and their obsession with Gladiatormania? Didn’t an ancient Roman philosopher say something like “Today’s kids have too much luxury.”? Sounds almost like something my parents would say.

    2. actually, books did steal our memories, although they are wonderful resources and repositories of knowledge.

      but if you had ever lived among alaska natives, who until the mid 20th century, pretty much lived without books, you would be astounded by the memories of elders.

      they had no handy “how to” handbooks stuffed in their back pockets to guide the uninitiated or prompt the forgetful. you either had your stuff down cold, or you ended up that way

      these were people wholly dependent upon the oral tradition, and personal experience, to master, retain and convey the knowledge necessary to survive and thrive in very challenging environments.

      the difference between their memory capabilities and ours is jaw dropping.

      all i can say is, glad we have books ! and rock and roll, t.v. ?meh.

  3. Comic books damned children to a life of illiteracy and sensational addictions. Yes, that defined an entire generation, and doomed civilisation itself to a moral decay that seemed irreversible. I wonder what went wrong/right.

    1. Personally, I say things went wrong when the Gladiators started becoming popular. They taught kids that it’s cool to feed people to lions. Kids and their gladiator fights!

  4. This is exactly why we need an SDK for the Apple TV. Kids today with their iPads aren’t getting enough time to build up their dexterity. We need them to spend some time with an Apple TV and a controller playing video games.

    Come on Apple, we’ve been begging for an Apple TV SDK for ourselves for a long time. But now, please, I beg of you…
    Think of the Children!

    1. That’s an interesting point and usually brought up when commenting on effects of games requiring a controller which the player rarely actually looks while playing. When using tablets and smartphones however the variety of controls as well as having the hands controlling the game not in direct sight during play is rarely possible. There is a big difference between the styles of gameplay that I don’t believe any effects from one should automatically be attributed to the other..

  5. Too bad the full article lists no studies backing the claims — not even a source that might have a list of more sources. While considerable research has been done examining how very young children learn from physically manipulating their world, I believe MDN has, over the years, shared numerous studies of school-age children and how classroom use of MacBooks and iPads have improved students’ math and reading performance. As MDN’s take points out, iPads are tools. Any study of inappropriate tool use — for any type of tool — is going to show problems. Next thing we may be hearing is how overuse of pencils leads to malnutrition, to follow the logic here.

  6. My nephew is 2 yrs old and is addicted to the game made by agnitus. It contains multiple games including blocks, alphabet, matching name a few. At the same time, he plays the real alphabet and blocks too without a problem.

  7. The article is complete and utter nonsense. There is no evidence for any of it. As an aside: My children grew up using a Mac from a very early age, both are quite accomplished builders and make quite amazing use of computers and iDevices in their day to day lives.

  8. Ever notice that the word “addiction” is thrown around quite often these days? People are addicted to just about everything: Coke, food (well, to be fair I wouldn’t call the desire to eat an addiction more than the brain’s way of preserving the body that houses it), TV, and so on, and so on.

    And now iPads.

    The thing is, words have meaning, and none of the above items can be call addictive; habit forming, sure, but hardly impulses beyond anyone’s ability to control if they choose to.

  9. I love it how all these people jump on it to claim how it is all nonsense and how computers and touchscreen devices are actually beneficial.

    This is NOT either / or. I don’t think anyone ever questioned the value of devices in education (most certainly NOT the teachers).

    The point here is over-indulgence. There are activities that children need to experience in order to most efficiently develop their skills and their minds. When some of these activities are supplanted with screen time, their development is slowed down. Their hand-eye coordination may be amazing, but that particular skill doesn’t give them significant advantage in the adulthood, and many of their other skills are poorly developed because of the lack of proper activity.

    The consequence of over-exposure to TV have been well researched and well documented in numerous studies. Since we only had touchscreen devices for the last few years, early studies are only emerging now, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that overexposure to ANY activity at the expense of other developmental activities will have negative consequences.

    Just like with the TV, parents find it easy to justify putting their children in front of a (touch)screen, in order to get some time off from constantly minding the kids. With TV, they would put PBS and treat the TV time as “learning time”, and now, with computers (and touchscreen devices), they are telling themselves that they are developing “computer geniuses”… I can’t remember how many times I’ve heard the same thing when a parent puts a 4-year old in front of a computer: “In five years, (s)he will be going ‘Dad, you’re doing it wrong, let me show you'”…

    People will find very convenient excuses for using technology as a baby sitter, instead of a learning tool (and there is a BIG difference between the two). I have no doubt that the article is absolutely right (developmental delays and problems due to over-use, mis-use or abuse of digital devices).

    Most toys are simple and straightforward. It is very difficult for a child to improperly use a ball (in such a way as to cause a developmental problem). He can kick it, throw it, catch it and not really much else; the worst problem with a ball is if it hits him in such a way to cause injury, and this is rare, and almost never on purpose.

    A computer (or an iPad) can be mis-used in many ways just as easily as can it be used for development. With almost a billion software titles to choose from, there are enough that can be detrimental, and they can be easily accessed.

    These devices, much like TV, for the prior generation, require much more responsibility of parents than most of the today’s parents are prepared to take on. Especially when there is the strong incentive to label that baby-sitting screen time as “development” of the little “computer genius”…

    1. I agree with you that this not an either/or situation. But because of that I would disagree that “overexposure to ANY activity at the expense of other developmental activities will have negative consequences.” (Emphasis mine) We know that choosing one type of activity over any other type will have consequences, but I think we can almost never know whether they are negative consequences (within reason). Children whose time allocation skews more heavily in one direction will naturally test differently from children with a more balanced approach, but again, is that appropriate for their future or for our past?

  10. As with TV, video games, or any other “indoor” entertainment device, it’s all up to the parent. People need to stop blaming society and look at themselves. My sister’s kids have ipads, but she and her husband monitor and restrict their usage.

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