Digital Pacifiers: Part Two

TIPPECANOE CO., Ind. (WLFI) – Studies are finding a connection between children’s use of handheld digital devices to aggression, delayed development and a handful of other problems.

In Digital Pacifiers: Part One, the experts gave their opinions on these devices and what parents can do to control the potential damage.

However, there is another way children gain access to these devices, without parents’ knowledge in how its used or for how long. Now, digital devices are being incorporated into the educational environment.

But what about all the potential risks associated with the use of these devices?

Cumberland Elementary School teacher, Katie Wilson, has seen the benefits of using handheld digital devices in her classroom.

“There is a sort of magic to it,” said Wilson.

The kindergarten teacher said it has changed the way she plans her daily activities.

“It just gives me more options for different skills. The modification piece is huge because I can quickly pull different things for different levels of learners,” said Wilson.

Over the course of her career, Wilson said there has always been technology in the classroom, but this is the first year she has used a handheld device in her curriculum.

“It is the reality that we live in, and in the classroom I think that you have to embrace the changes and the possibilities of the amazing technology that’s coming nowadays,” said Wilson.

Is there really a greater benefit compared to a traditional classroom activity?

Many educational apps promise to help increase your child’s intelligence. Purdue Communication professor Glenn Sparks is concerned that using digital devices could take away from the social experience gained in school.

“My concern is that as we throw these devices into the traditional classroom and encourage kids to be processing material that way,” said Sparks. “We may be using that as a substitute for more face-to-face interaction.”

Wilson said it is all in how the device is used in the classroom.

“We use it as a whole group activity. Everyone’s involved, and the children who may not know an answer can help me choose what we do next,” said Wilson. “If you use it in a positive way with another adult, leading and helping them along with it appropriately, it’s a positive. It’s a good thing.”

Sparks said he is skeptical that even an educational use would outweigh the potential harm caused by these devices.

“There’s really no necessity and benefit that’s going to accrue as a result of letting your child just spend time with these screens. No matter what the content of the screen is,” said Sparks.

IU Health Arnett Child Psychiatrist Elizabeth Kowal said she believes these devices can provide a beneficial educational experience. However, she stresses the importance of moderation.

“A lot of these devices have great education apps and educational content, and I think that those have been shown in studies for preschoolers who learn from them,” said Kowal. “It has to, has to be moderated. I think everything in moderation.”

Wilson said when it comes to time in the classroom, it’s all about common sense.

“Time wise, obviously, you kind of have to use common sense. There’s no more than five minutes per child per day. I think if you use it correctly, it will only be a positive in your classroom,” said Wilson.

When used correctly, Wilson said it’s just another educational tool.

“We use so many different tools as educators to try to get through to different learners and it’s just another one that I can use,” said Wilson.

Below is the American Academy of Pediatrics’ guidelines for children’s use of digital devices.

Developmental Age How Much? Non-violent TV Handheld Devices Non-violent Video Games Violent Video Games Online Violent Video Games and orPornography
0-2 years none never never never never never
3-5 years 1 hour/day never never never never
6-12 years 2 hour/day never never never never
13-18 years 2 hour/day limit to 30 min/day never

For a list of educational apps recommended by the American Library Association, click here.

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