The iPad just recently celebrated its fourth birthday. In this relatively short amount of time, the tablet evolved from a mobile computer into an e-Reader, small business tool — and yes, babysitter. Kids and toddlers completely enthralled by playing video games on the iPad isn't a cultural or parenting rarity these days.
Generally, observing young children tuned out to the world, whether at home or in public, provokes negative feelings that range from parental concern to outside judgment. Do gadgets and video games impede adolescent development? Can consuming digital media and gaming instead strengthen the brain and improve cognitive functioning? How much is too much?
NPR also questioned the effects of digital media on children and asked: "Is that iPad help or harm?" Dr. Dimitri Chistakis — father, pediatrician and professor — approaches the contentious subject matter with neutrality. Christakis explains that pediatric research on how touchscreen devices affect children is limited because tablet technology is so new. Based on a compelling theoretical framework, Christakis still recommends that "judicious use of these touchscreen technologies is fine and may even be beneficial." Interactive play can foster essential learning and brain development, he adds. Parents and children can also engage in "joint attention" and play an online game together. Just as a parent would read a book with a child, a parent can play an online puzzle or word game with their little one as well.
Proof in the Numbers
The founder of AffordableSchoolsOnline.com believes gaming is good for you. The following points highlight how gaming can change gamers for the better.
• Kids who played Tetris for 30 minutes a day for three months had a thicker cortex compared to non-players. The cortex is the most highly developed part of the human brain that perceives, produces and understands language. Information processing, as well as critical thinking and reasoning, occur in the cortex.
• Video games can improve early literacy, including letter recognition and story comprehension, for children ages 4 and 5.
• More than 100 Fortune 500 companies (e.g. IBM and Cisco) use some form of gaming for employee training.
Can playing video games really strengthen the mind and increase mental health? Cognitive neuroscientist Sandra Bond Chapman, Ph.D., tells PsychologyToday.com that brain games in particular aren't harmful, but downtime from technology, even for just 30 minutes, produces better brain health. Also, enforce household regulations that help kids reduce digital multitasking. Constantly shifting attentions and responding to every single notification interrupts brain functioning. Multitasking overloads, fatigues and stresses the brain, which decreases mental efficiency. Overusing electronics impedes deep cognitive thinking. Therefore, make it your responsibility to monitor and manage technology use.
The upsides? According to scientists from Queen Mary University of London and University College London, various video games can help train the brain for increased agility and improve strategic thinking, reports ScienceDaily.com. The study was based on subjects who played the strategy game "StarCraft" and life simulation game "The Sims." Data pulled from the subjects' psychological tests showed those who played "StarCraft," as opposed to "The Sims," performed cognitive flexibility tasks more quickly and accurately. Dr. Brian Glass of Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences explains that strategy games improve the brain's "ability to think on the fly and learn from past mistakes." Cognitive flexibility also promotes creative problem solving and out-of-the-box thinking. Rest assured, with balance and management, you can feel confident that allowing your child to play games on the iPad isn't detrimental.
SEE ALSO: The Parents' Guide To Buying Video Games
Dear Friends and Fans, have a great week and remember: "Advertising makes the promise BUT it is your people who deliver it!". Keep visiting us! We have a better way! ;)