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Is too much use of mobile gadgets harmful for young children?

Geoff Ferguson - February 1st 2015

Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine have highlighted the possible dangers of heavy mobile technology use by very young children.

The researchers point out that while we know about the harmful effects of too much television and video for children under 3, the effects of over-using smartphones and tablets are yet to be fully studied. This is especially crucial given the widespread use of these items and the temptation to use them to distract a young child.

The article in the Journal Pediatrics warns that the heavy use of these devices could hinder a young child's emotional and social development, where human interaction is vital for the development of empathy. The child's acquisition of mathematical skills is also at risk, as these skills are promoted by the sensorimotor and visual-motor skills gained through the physical manipulation of objects. The young child's exclusive absorption with a small screen reduces its engagement with both the social and the physical world.

Some early learning TV programmes and mobile applications may be useful, but only for children closer to school age. And for the younger child, playing with blocks is probably a better basis for learning maths than a mobile app.

A summary of the journal article was recently published in the Guardian newspaper and the full article can be found in the January 1st edition of Pediatrics.


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Welcome to ourNews, where we keep up-to-date with research and other news related to infant mental health. These articles can be of interest to both parents and professionals.
We are keen to know your views and so please do comment on our articles.
Is there a topic that you would like us to write about? Just send us a message via 'Contact us'.

ourAdvice, our other blog, has brief posts with advice for parents.

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