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Doctors issue warning over infant use of computer tablets

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: computer tablets, infants, developmental problems

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(NaturalNews) There's no question that technology has changed the way children play and interact. Though many of the "old-school" games and toys still exist for kids, technology is what attracts - and holds - their attention most.

But the tablet culture that kids are growing ever more used to these days is damaging to them, according to new studies. In fact, some experts are saying that kids under the age of two shouldn't use an iPad or tablet at all.

Researchers, doctors and therapists at the American Academy of Pediatrics have found that too much time utilizing a touch screen has long-term negative implications.

As reported by CBS Baltimore:

Playtime for babies is far different in the 21st century. But parents could be making a big mistake putting touchscreens in the hands of toddlers and young children.

Parents think they're educating and stimulating their kids, but doctors and therapists are raising a red flag - too much screen time can hurt their developing bodies.

'I did not know this would be a part of our parenting and our teaching'

"If they are always on the iPad and not actually doing those paper-pencil activities that they should still be doing, those muscles are going to remain weaker," said occupational therapist Lindsay Marzoli, Learning and Therapy Corner.

The CBS video report featured six-year-old Nolan Ulrich, a typical youngster who enjoys playing on the family's iPad. Though his mother limits the amount of screen time he gets, she still worries about how much can be too much, especially now that she understands it can lead to muscle weakness and underdevelopment.

"Is it OK for them to be constantly looking at something for 20 or 30 minutes straight?" said Tammie Ulrich. "I did not know this would be a part of our parenting and our teaching."

Local affiliate reporter Jessica Kartalija is shown asking Nolan, who is playing a game on the iPad, "What does this work on?"

"My finger and hand movements," he responded.

The reporter says that, while the game looks fun, it's actually part of the boy's occupational therapy. He's been working on his eye-hand coordination and finger movements, such as grasping and pinching, as well as balance and posture. These are all problems that kids with too much pad and tablet time, in lieu of physical play time - running, jumping, biking, playing ball etc. - can develop.

"This isn't just about the fine motor, it's about their body as well," the reporter said.

Marzoli responds: "What we're seeing is a lot of children coming in with some motor delays, some decreased muscle strength in areas."

'Sometimes we set a timer now'

Indeed, occupational therapists are seeing more kids like Nolan. A recently released survey about tablets and toddlers found that the number of kids who use touchscreens has doubled in just two years. "Almost 40 percent of babies under two and nearly 75 percent of kids under eight are using them," the report says.

"They tap and something happens. So they tap and wow! Something happens there. And that's very enticing," Dr. Timothy Doran, a pediatrician at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, told the local news team.

What is all this adding up to be for future generations? Well, it's hard to say with certainty, because as the researchers pointed out, it's too early to predict what damage may ultimately be done. And that, in and of itself, has doctors and researchers concerned.

"Unlimited use, three-four hours of iPad use on their own - where the parents aren't involved - seems to me that you are flirting with developmental danger," Doran said.

It's a warning that Nolan's family is certainly taking seriously, the report said.

"Sometimes we set a timer now," his mother said.

Therapists are recommending no more than 15 minutes' worth of touchscreen time, even when using highly educational apps.





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