Child psychologist: Giving iPads to children under two is ‘tantamount to child abuse’

“A leading child psychologist has claimed giving very young kids an iPad to play with is tantamount to child abuse,” Derek Brown reports for The Sun.

Dr Richard House asserts the rise in use of technology is bad for very young kids and could be compared to ‘playing Russian roulette with their development,'” Brown reports. “He told Nursery World magazine electronic images on a screen lead to ‘an indirect and distorted experience of the world.’ He supports recommendations from the US that children under the age of two shouldn’t be exposed to screens at all.”

It seems that the arrogance of modern technology (together with ruthless commercialism) knows no bounds. On the basis of what I’ve argued here, giving iPads to babies is tantamount to child abuse. It’s akin to playing Russian roulette with children’s development. — Dr Richard House, founder of Early Childhood Action

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Save the iPads for their second birthday, at least, and remember: Beware too much of a good thing.

They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home. — Steve Jobs in 2010, when asked if his kids love the iPad

Steve Jobs was a low-tech parent – September 11, 2014


  1. There’s a Dr Spock in every crowd. I think that handing an iPad to an infant is not a good idea in general. But letting them hold hit touch it see it, isn’t going to be harmful in as much as any other toy placed in their hand, with adult supervision. But simply handing it to them and then leaving them be is just bad judgement in the first place. All children benefit from organized play, and mucking about. You wouldn’t leave your baby with a family pet either.

    There is a difference between exposure vs immersion. Take your kids wherever you can. Let them see and experience as much as possible in their early years. The more they see, the better they are.

  2. He is exaggerating but he is not entirely wrong.

    Most of us grew up watching a lot of TV from an early age and somehow survived.

    As with most things, moderation is important. Whether we are talking about TV, video games or iPads I think the key is that kids need a variety of experiences. They should be able to explore an environment, touch things, feel their weight and texture, balance blocks, roll balls, dig in sand, … and experience flat screens and what happens when you touch them. However, I agree that kids should spend all day with either a TV or an iPad.

    1. I assume you meant to write:
      However, I agree that kids should NOT spend all day with either a TV or an iPad.

      Kids should spend as much time as possible out in the real, actual world of our planet Earth. Go get into the dirt and trees kids! Out there is where real life resides, not on a display monitor or Wallnut Street for that matter. Moderation indeed.

  3. My preference would be to keep all computers away from children until they are out of grade school, this includes iPods and iPhones. I know it’s impossible to keep iPhones away from some children during the day since they are needed for communicating with parents, but during the school day they would be kept out of the classroom. Children need to explore the world directly, not through the filter computers provide.

    Schools that are sitting students in front of computer screens during much of the day are responsible for creating dullards and robots. And of all schools, the ones responsible for doing this the most are Charter Schools — not all Charter Schools, but many, especially those where the child signs up for high school online courses and given a crappy desktop computer, and thereby insuring they never see the inside of a book, interact with other children in the rough-and-tumble experience of the playground or be challenged to think of things other than what’s on the screen of the computer they were overcharged for by the online Charter School.

    Ohio is one of the worst offenders in this regard.

  4. When you get right down to it, all our technology is unnatural. Its use has undoubtedly shaped our species in ungodly ways. But it has also proved a blessing. So let’s ask, with this particular piece of unnatural technology, which has been around for just five years, how many children under two have been hurt by it so far, and how? Better to see some evidence, instead of a speculation shoehorned into a theory of child development.

  5. Without going all MaNIaCaL on the subject, it is probably wise to let child psychologists thrash through this subject and sort out what is developmentally beneficial to children.

    I seriously doubt that BANNING an iPad from the life of a one year old is an entirely great idea. But whitelisting very specific, child beneficial uses of an iPad is certainly a great idea. What is a child most earnestly learning about the world at that age?

    Depth perception
    Positive vs Negative
    . . .

    Just my inexpert thoughts.

    1. In my opinion, expecting an iPad to keep your child out of your hair is child abuse. I believe that parents need to spend time with their children teaching them the values, morals and habits that they need for a lifetime. Computing devices can be used at anytime with a parent guiding the child. So can books, TV and grandparents be resources.

      I think that anyone who leaves their child unsupervised with open source learning material is not only abusing their child but is a clueless parent.

      1. I agree. The entire concept of keeping your child out of your hair is abuse. iPads and TV have their uses, if only for a deserved nap for mum & dad. But dumping the kid in technology as avoidance of being parents is abuse. I’m there with you.

  6. The one thing I remember from the psychology class I took in college (eons ago) was a statement about child psychology. The instructor said that every generation the psychologies claimed that the way the kids were raised in the previous generation was completely wrong; yet somehow we’ve all seemed to survive.

    That said, it’s pretty clear that the generations that grew up with a TV set as their babysitter (I was in the first) clearly had problems that didn’t exist prior to that point. So I can believe what this guy has to say based on that alone.

  7. What a load of tosh. Psychologists have come up with doom and gloom warnings like this about virtually every technological advance since the Dawn of Psychology. Keeps them in the news, I suppose. The clue is in the click-bait ‘child abuse’ comment. You’d have to hope Dr House hasn’t actually thought about that comparison too carefully (and will feel pretty bad when he eventually does).

    Everything in moderation. Our kids were playing with iPads from about a year old. And, apart from tons of other benefits in terms of interactive creativity, language and motor skills, they knew their times tables by four. They’re now ripping through maths about four years ahead of where they should be . . . and they’re not brainy, trust me (you’d need to meet my wife and I to truly understand just how badly they’ve been cursed genetically on that score). God bless Shiny Things for their QuickMath apps and Oddrobo for King of Math. Brilliant. Our spawn still do all the sport/music/reading/blah stuff (I was a total sports nut when younger) . . . but iPads are simply part of their world. I think they’re one of the greatest educational tools ever created . . . if used properly. It’s just a question of judgement and moderation: half an hour on things that engage and stimulate = yes; four hours on Call of Duty aged two . . . probably not?

  8. The basic question is much deeper. He is complaining about distorted reality? The things we see and touch around us are not real. They are what our senses tell us are “real”. So what reality is being distorted, obviously a reality that he has judged to be unacceptable.
    Any child that can see and be seen using tools to view a new “reality”, a grandmothers face, the sound of a grandfather talking to them. The reality is they are not present, yet they are with the child nurturing and guiding them from any place on the globe. A “reality” the likes of which have never been seen by mankind.
    A young child is exposed to the world in ways that will allow them to better understand their own reality. By the time these children are 2 years old they will be exposed to millions of images, sounds and people. The young minds will use this information to create a better reality than we can image.
    Keep the child engaged. Basic learning today is spread across the universe and children two and under have the best view of this new reality.
    As to the children not exposed to this new reality, they are being abused.

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