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. 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?

  2. 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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