iPads and tablets have become readily available, with most households having access to one or more devices. Being portable and offering hours of entertainment, they are definitely a favourite amongst children.

Recent research though, suggests that extended use of ‘screen time’ – the time spent for entertainment purposes, can negatively impact a child’s development. As such, use of the iPad/tablet as a leisure item should be limited. However, we do believe that when used sparingly and appropriately, iPads and tablets can be an effective tool for your child’s development.

 

So when should you start to introduce the iPad to your child?

<18 months:

  • It is best that your child explores the world around them.
  • Emphasis should be placed on interacting with your child and learning through play.
  • It is not recommended that the iPad/tablet device is introduced to your child at this stage.

 

18-24 months:

  • You could introduce the iPad or tablet during this period but don’t feel that you MUST do it right away. These media devices are intuitive and children learn how to use them very quickly.
  • If you decide to introduce your child to the iPad/tablet, try to avoid letting them use it on their own. Use it together and turn it into a language-rich learning experience.

 

24 months and older:

  • Choose apps that will provide an interactive experience, will develop skill sets and are non-violent.
  • Again, avoid letting your child use the device on their own. When possible, co-view with them.
  • Usage should be capped at one hour per day. It is recommended that this be broken down into smaller blocks of 10-20 minutes split throughout the day.

 

Other useful tips:

  • Sync your iPad with iTunes – This will allow you to control which apps show up on the iPad without needing to delete and reinstall them every time.
  • Set up guided access – Restrict your child from switching from one app to another. Refer to http://www.imore.com/how-use-guided-access-iphone-and-ipad for more information.
  • Keep mealtimes, and most parent-child interactions screen free.
  • The iPad or tablet is not the only way to calm your child – Try and manage your child’s emotions without the iPad. Other strategies that you could try include reward charts and appropriate consequences before resorting to this.

 

If you would like any more information on iPad/tablets and what apps could be used to facilitate development, please don’t hesitate to contact one of the speech therapist at the Centre.