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. 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..

  1. 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.

  2. This is the downside of technology.

    The human race is destined to end up as useless creatures, sitting in chairs and writing fat.

    The Walle movie gets it exactly right!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

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