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Education Technology

Do Tablets Help Children Learn? 223

Posted by samzenpus
from the google-it dept.
hypnosec writes "With the wide array of electronic devices available in our everyday lives, it appears that children have formed an attachment to a different kind of toy. According to the latest survey, 77 per cent of polled US, UK parents believe that iPads and other tablets are good educational tools that boost kids' creativity. Meanwhile, researchers in this field explain that it is a matter of balance — and a child's access to tablets and other similar electronic devices should be monitored. Specialists warn that using tablets in excess could cause attention deficit disorder and even autism, particularly at a very young age."
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Do Tablets Help Children Learn?

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  • by pushing-robot (1037830) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @07:12PM (#39566693)

    Do they help us learn? Well, it depends on the software.

    Are they part of the Star Trek future-utopia? Hell yes.

    Cell phones...tablets...we're well on our way to holodecks, and I'll be damned if we stop now.

    • Re:Wrong question. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by digitallife (805599) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @07:50PM (#39567031)

      Joking aside, you're spot on that it depends on the software. My daughter started using my iPad when she was one, and some of the educational/kids apps are complete garbage, doing more harm than good. Some of the apps however are FABULOUS. She learned her numbers and letters before she was three, and despite my best efforts, I think the iPad did most of the work. The big benefit the iPad has is that it can hold their attention, and give them infinite time when it's got it. I had to struggle to keep her interested in letters and numbers, and I would run out of energy (or time) relatively quickly.

      On top of that, iOS is just fantastic for kids. My current one year old grabs the iPad whenever he can get his hands on it (he bites it so I keep it away from him!), and he's already figured out how to open it, scroll through the apps, and launch one without breaking anything. All in the few seconds he gets when I'm not looking! Even at 3 my daughter can't use a mouse effectively, so a normal computer is totally unworkable at these young ages.

      Finally, I think using a tablet is a lot better than zoning in front of a tv. God knows how much Time our generations spent doing at, and we still managed to turn out okay... I think...

  • What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @07:14PM (#39566719) Homepage Journal

    How does a device which drives and rewards specific behavior (tap the star to win!) increase creativity more than free-form finger paints and crayons?

    Oh, that's right. It's a $600 toy they're trying to justify buying. Surely there must be something better they can spend the $6,000 on than 10 iPads.

    • It's a $600 toy they're trying to justify buying. Surely there must be something better they can spend the $6,000 on than 10 iPads.

      Like, what? 1/5 of an annual teacher's salary expense?

    • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @07:25PM (#39566815) Homepage Journal

      Stop being myopic. Please THINK.

      Let me twist that around:

      How does connect the dots with a crayon increase creativity more than an iPad where they can learn to play music, finger paint, and read.

      It's what you DO. You sound like those people that complain TV is bad and then go off to read a 10 cent romance novel.
      It's a tool. Use it as such.

      • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @09:00PM (#39567561) Homepage Journal

        I realize there is software written for tablets (someone linked to many below) which emulate activities such as drawing and painting. The point of this article is that creativity and learning are improved over traditional methods. I doubt that doing things on a tablet is even equivalent to the physical interaction of other methods, let alone superior.

        Is a math program better than watching and interacting with a teacher? Are 8 blobs of colored pixels really better than the 5 oranges and 3 apples on the table?

        Is drawing (with a 100+ ms latency) better than on a piece of paper? Will a flat glass screen provide the subtle, subconscious insight into texture, shading, pressure, etc that crayons do?

        Is a finger painting program provide as meaningful feedback as actually getting paint on your fingers? Just how well can you simulate the color and paper for water-colors?

        Humans are social animals that have evolved to use our hands to examine and manipulate our environment. There's a reason smaller children do things like finger paint -- it's a very tactile activity with clear feedback.

        Technology has a place in the classroom, of course -- the newfangled school computers I used in my middle school years are what pushed me at CS and programming -- but tablets like the iPad are solutions looking for a problem. That they're failing to find one is why we get these articles claiming they're "better" because, gosh, 77% of adults guts' say so.

        You say they're a tool -- okay, nice truism. Please, tell me what tablets do to improve more traditional methods.

        • by Jaktar (975138)

          Agree 100%. My two children have used our tablets/phones for drawing and other activities. Nothing beats the real thing.

        • Re:What? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by digitallife (805599) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @11:33PM (#39568361)

          Tablets do two primary things to improve on traditional methods of education and learning:

          1) they provide an interactive, consistent, high availability, versatile environment which replaces alternative 'babysitters' such as the TV or game console. Let's be honest, if all kids had 2 parents giving 24 hours a day to them, we wouldn't need daycare, babysitters, or school, because they are all just supplements for parents. But parents need to work, make dinner, clean the house, change diapers, buy the groceries... And they run out of time and energy. A tablet with a good educational app is better than many of the readily available alternatives.

          2) they have the ability to engage kids in a way that adults often struggle with while teaching certain (boring, non physical) content. I know that my very best efforts were barely enough to keep my daughter interested in learning letters for more than a couple minutes, yet playing an alphabet app with her could keep her interested for up to 30 minutes. Apps that simply are not available for desktops/laptops, in a format (touch) that is far superior, especially for young kids.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            But parents need to work

            That is the real problem. If one parent can dedicate themselves to family life instead of having to work then even with all the pressures you mention the affect on children is huge. Unfortunately wages today are so low that for most people having only one parent work is just impossible, and society suffers for it.

            We don't want to pay for really high quality child care like they have to Scandinavian countries and we don't want to pay people enough to support a family on their own.

        • by cookiej (136023)

          I realize there is software written for tablets (someone linked to many below) which emulate activities such as drawing and painting. The point of this article is that creativity and learning are improved over traditional methods. I doubt that doing things on a tablet is even equivalent to the physical interaction of other methods, let alone superior.

          I love the "I doubt". You ask for proof and make it clear you have none to offer save your own vibes.

          Is a math program better than watching and interacting with a teacher?

          Are 8 blobs of colored pixels really better than the 5 oranges and 3 apples on the table?

          It depends on the teacher. However, it seemed that the OP was really asking about the places kids are using the tablets the most, i.e., at home. And except for a lucky few, there AREN'T math teachers at home. No one is suggesting that we don't do simple math when opportunities present themselves. Just that tablets offer simple and direct access to learning. My kids are required to spend 20 minutes a day

      • How does connect the dots with a crayon increase creativity more than an iPad where they can learn to play music, finger paint, and read.

        The crayon is only limited by the imagination of the kid (and reality), while the iPad is limited by both the imagination of the kid and the programmer.

        For example: When I was in first grade we learned about the primary colors and how mixing them would give other colors. Our 'homework' was to color in this venn diagram type thing, so there would be a 'red' circle and a 'bl

      • by Waccoon (1186667)

        How does connect the dots with a crayon increase creativity more than an iPad where they can learn to play music, finger paint, and read.

        I'm sure the school could buy several musical instruments (like recorders), finger paint sets, books, and crayons for the cost of one iPad. Maybe even enough for the whole class.

        They might even be able to do that stuff together and build some social skills while they're at it.

    • Consider the source (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tomhath (637240) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @07:45PM (#39566973)
      The company that did the survey, KidsIndustries, offers their marketing service "to ensure your brand is front of mind with your consumer". So quick, run out and buy several iPads; everybody knows they make your kid smarter.
    • by jo_ham (604554)

      It seems your sig is particularly appropriate right about now.

      (Also, who says that using educational software and using free-form expressive learning are mutually exclusive things? You have spoken - crayons are the peak of educational tools! Let us stop now and never try anything else!

      • by nmb3000 (741169)

        It seems your sig is particularly appropriate right about now.

        Good catch. I do despise change for change's sake, and those around me would probably attest it's something of a defining characteristic :)

        You have spoken - crayons are the peak of educational tools! Let us stop now and never try anything else!

        Crayons were just an example because I wanted to focus on children's creative expression (which was a primary focus of the "article"). I'm also open to the idea of markers and pencils.

        Snark aside, my intent was express that if these tablets are doing nothing but emulating current children's creative activities (drawing, painting, etc) in the classroom (not during a tri

        • by jo_ham (604554)

          Well that really is the crux of the issue, but early indications are that *good* educational tablet software (and there's some serious cruft on the iPad and other devices among the actual gems) really does help. It's not really a new thing - my mum was experimenting with this way back in the day on the Archimedes with simple tablet input, except back then she had to "program" the tablet's surface area to represent different inputs based on the graphics and symbols she put on top of it (scissors and craft pa

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      I'm all for kids getting creative, but they can't smoosh iPad paint all over the wall.

      I'm not saying never let them finger-paint, but I am saying that if they're going to doodle around it's better for your sanity (and your cleaning bill) that they do it on an app rather than, say, write all over the cable bill with a crayon...

  • by chrylis (262281) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @07:16PM (#39566733)

    I hadn't heard Jenny McCarthy was blaming iPads now; I suppose it's an improvement from a public-health perspective.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @07:18PM (#39566755)

    I wish people would stop making the assumption that there is only one way to learn something. It implies that there is one superior form of learning and a bunch of inferior ones. One problem of one-to-many teaching is that it must use a learning style which is effective to the broadest audience, which can (and usually does) mean that the learning style used is not the optimal one for some, if not most, of the audience. Another is that not all material is equal; You do not teach math the same way as you do phy ed; The goals are different, and in fact the areas of the brain targeted for development are different. Radically so.

    So to ask a question "Do tablets help children learn?" is disengenuous at best. They will help in some situations. They will not help in all situations.

    With that out of the way, I have some personal experience worth sharing. My sister is age 15 and has struggled with reading and math; Her verbal vocabulary vastly outstrips her written vocabulary. I purchased an iPad 2 for her this christmas (not cheap!) after several previous failed attempts to get her interested in reading. Since then, her reading comprehension has improved, and I believe access to a tablet device can be credited with that, because of it's interactive and hands-on nature. It is a more intuitive design for written material than a computer, and it is in a more accessible format. As well, because she can just swipe her finger over a word and get a definition and a spoken example of the word, it helps associate the written form of the word to the spoken one. I think tablets are very good for certain specific cases like this; and could be very beneficial for people with specific learning disorders.

    But I do not suggest everyone buy a tablet for their child (or 'a' child, as the case may be!).

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @07:23PM (#39566799)

      Specialists warn that using tablets in excess could cause attention deficit disorder and even autism

      Oh yeah, I forgot to add this bit: Also, the specialists above are morons. Nobody has yet conclusively determined the cause of either condition, but it appears to be hereditary, at least in part. Suggesting that tablets cause autism is as scientifically irresponsible as saying vaccinations cause autism. Let me be clear here: Nobody knows why these things happen. Anyone who says otherwise should be immediately imposed upon to provide compelling evidence to support their claim, since many studies have been done and no clear answer has emerged yet.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        Specialists think you are being a bit harsh in deriding their unfounded claims. 100% of experts interviewed agree!
        • Specialists think you are being a bit harsh in deriding their unfounded claims. 100% of experts interviewed agree!

          "Right and wrong do exist. Just because you don't know what the right answer is, even if there is no way for you to know what the right answer is, doesn't make your answer right or even okay. It's much simpler than that... It's just plain wrong." -- Dr. House

        • by twocows (1216842)
          Why would somebody mod this troll? This was obviously a joke.
      • by dkf (304284)

        Nobody has yet conclusively determined the cause of [ADD or autism], but it appears to be hereditary, at least in part. Suggesting that tablets cause autism is as scientifically irresponsible as saying vaccinations cause autism. Let me be clear here: Nobody knows why these things happen. Anyone who says otherwise should be immediately imposed upon to provide compelling evidence to support their claim, since many studies have been done and no clear answer has emerged yet.

        The best conclusion I've heard so far is that it is a complicated genetic susceptibility combined with some kind of environmental insult at the wrong moment. The genetic susceptibility is probably based across a whole raft of interlinked genes (i.e., it's hellishly difficult to hunt down) and nobody's really got any idea about the environmental components; could be viral, bacterial, some kind of poison that most people metabolize well, or even a combination. What is clear is that it's not directly caused by

    • I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a student frustrated or hindered by adding interactivity to any learning process. I think the implied benefit is sufficiently broad in its appeal that a general claim can be made. Certainly they're not necessary, and perhaps a claim could be made about setting up unmaintainable expectations (can't learn everything interactively, after all!), but because we're wired to learn from experience first and by proxy second, it's natural for any animal with a nervous system to d
    • by Shavano (2541114)

      I think the idea that different people learn in different ways is highly suspect.

      It's not like Sara and Tommy are different species. What works to help Sara learn will work for Tommy unless Tommy lacks some basic faculty that Sara has.

      If this were not the case, schools would never have worked.

      Where we differ is mostly culture.

      • by fiziko (97143)

        Not completely. Different students have different learning styles that are predisposed at birth. If Sara can learn, Tommy can learn, but Sara might learn with a measurable increase in efficiency if she hears the material, while Tommy can learn more efficiently if he sees it. It's certainly not an on/off switch, but it is a fast/slow switch.

        And, for the record, I work in private education and we've been teaching with tablets (iPads and otherwise) for almost two years. On average, students are more engage

        • by sarts (1306967)
          I agree with you there, but there are more factors to account for. I myself have only just discovered what it is that makes me 'remember', and 'learn'. And that is 4 years after I have completed my Bachelor degree in Computer Science. Depending on the source or nature of the information, I am either better at hearing it, or seeing it. And with other skills I actually need to try, and fail (a few (dozen)) times before I understand what is going on. Learning always came 'natural' to me, with no real stimulu
    • by Pastis (145655)
      > I believe access to a tablet device can be credited with that, because of it's interactive and hands-on nature.
      > It is a more intuitive design for written material than a computer, and it is in a more accessible forma

      I find this use of the technology really appealing. As "enjar" writes below tablets aren't bad themselves. It's how we use them. It's all about not falling into excess and providing diverse experiences to people.

      As for math learning, I am working on an ipad app that we will release in a
  • by grammar fascist (239789) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @07:21PM (#39566773) Homepage

    If there are environmental factors, they're slight. It's as heritable as height.

    Plenty of things can cause the same symptoms in the short term without the neurological condition. Examples are the death of a parent (the emotional pain is, among other things, highly distracting), lack of sleep, and malnutrition. Yes, staring at a screen all day and experiencing nothing but rapid, small rewards can cause an otherwise healthy kid to find other things less rewarding. But I've read a lot about ADHD, and I've never seen anything conclusive that says such things can give a child the actual disorder.

  • Key word: "excess" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by enjar (249223) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @07:22PM (#39566789) Homepage

    We monitor all of the "screen time" our kids get. Phones, computer, TV, DS and Leapsters can be played with or watched for a while (usually about one hour a day). We also don't allow screen time before lunch and make sure they also have physical activity, read books, play games (card, board, puzzles), Legos, ride bikes, go to the park, go outside (sledding, swingset, bubbles, hula hoop) and do organized lessons (dancing, swimming). We also take family vacations at a lake where we do swimming, fishing, canoeing, tubing, hiking and other outdoor stuff. Last year I think they went four days without TV. Sometimes they whine that they want to watch something else but once they get involved in something new they generally forget about it.

    We'd never just park them with a tablet and let them "learn" that way. They still have a lot of real-world stuff to figure out before they can spend significant time in electronic land.

  • what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @07:22PM (#39566791) Homepage Journal

    "Specialists warn that using tablets in excess could cause attention deficit disorder and even autism, particularly at a very young age.""

    Specialist in what, making scary shit up about technology?

    The tablet is a window to the world. Parents should control it, but that's about it. If it gets the child active in something, then it's good. The fact that it's a tablet is secondary.

    I ma from the era where for entertainment kids through rocks at each other. i.e. every generation prior to 1995.
    My kids are very much in the internet generation. And they can do and learn far more then I had the opportunity to.

    • by phriedom (561200)
      No kidding. I'm pretty sure we know nothing conclusive about what causes autism, so any uncited quote from an unnamed source that claims that too much tablet use could cause it is worthy of scorn. I'm kind of surprised that hypnosec got away with including that crap in the headline. Can we mod him down?
    • The nydailynews.com article actually cites a few researchers talking about the problems of replacing human interaction with computer instruction: i.e., it hinders the development of social skills and creates a dependence. These are basically the same anti-TV-babysitter arguments, except with interactive devices instead of passive media. No researcher is actually quoted naming any developmental or hereditary disorders as being "caused" by too much screen time; one is even noted as insisting caution in making

    • by dkf (304284)

      I ma from the era where for entertainment kids through rocks at each other. i.e. every generation prior to 1995.

      Newsflash: kids still love a big empty cardboard box that they can use for pretend play. It can be a cave and a fire engine and a space rocket and bath, all in one afternoon.

  • by Nyder (754090) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @07:24PM (#39566807) Journal

    Of course tablets can help you learn, that is a no brainer.

    The real question is, Can we give them to children and monitor their use so they use it to learn, instead of just for entertainment.

    • by cappp (1822388)
      It remains to be seen if this sort of interactive technology is beneficial in the classroom. A previous comment [slashdot.org] from a couple of months ago gives a few handy links to stories suggesting the benefits, if they exist, are limited.

      That being said, a recent story in the NYT [nytimes.com] paints a more positive picture.

      Many studies have found that technology has helped individual classrooms, schools or districts. For instance, researchers found that writing scores improved for eighth-graders in Maine after they were all iss

    • The real question is: Do we have the expertise, training, software and infrastructure to use a tablet to enhance education? Using the tablet for entertainment occasionally isn't bad, monitoring for inappropriate behavior and metrics is part of a solid network infrastructure, and teachers need to know how to use the devices or it is a waste of resources. I've seen too much technology thrown over the wall and minimally used.
  • Hmmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by AxDx (1184351) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @07:25PM (#39566811)
    I personally work in education in a fairly large school district.. Whenever people discuss this topic, they tend to focus on the wrong things in my opinion. What we need to focus on: 1) Is this a matter of taking a technology that was developed for personal entertainment and trying to make it conform to "serious education". 2) If kids can't write/express succinctly on paper or read a book, what makes you think that some shiny $500 tablet will? 3) Total cost of the device, not just initial.. you look at your average tablet plus e-books, plus apps and you have a very expensive alternative to plain ole notebooks, pencils, and textbooks 4) Management.. Schools quickly learn that just giving these things away to students quickly amounts to a management nightmare they didn't foresee.. Everything from warranty repair, broken glass, application deployment/updates and acceptable content are only possible with a well thought out plan, and school-wide participation at all levels..
    • Re:Hmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jon3k (691256) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @08:06PM (#39567195)
      Good points, worth discussing

      1) It wasn't specifically for entertainment, that's a pretty misleading argument. It's just a tablet computer, it was designed from the ground up for a lot more than entertainment. (eg - Exchange messaging, calendaring, contacts, reading, web browsing, etc. Just watch the original iPad commercials.)
      2) That's a misleading argument. The question shouldn't be limited to "can we get non-performing students to perform". That isn't its sole purpose. An iPad can also be a better tool for already productive and capable students.
      3) Compare that to the cost of the school supplies it replaces. I was spending hundreds of dollars a year in textbooks alone years ago when I was in school. I'm afraid to even ask what it costs now.

      Also worth considering - what does that iPad bring to the table beyond with what we have now. How about the level of interaction we've never seen. Two students coloring together? instantly feeding their art to a large display (tv/projector) to share with the whole class? the only real limitations are your imagination. What about the communication with the parent to help development, you can feed the child's work right into a web based application that a parent can monitor from work/home. You could take it as far as being able to see and comment on your child's work in real-time.

      I think we need to get outside of the box of limiting iPads to being simply replacements for the tools we have now. It can be so much more than that with a little creativity.
    • You have to have infrastructure to support tablets for a roll out to be successful. 1:1 Laptop deployments on existing network infrastructure have shredded wireless networks in schools. TCO of tablets will be 4X initial capital expenses, assuming you can get more than 1-2 years out of them. Plus teachers have to know how to use them inside their lessons, and to be viable from a cost perspective, nearly every learning activity will have to use the device in some form.
    • All of your complaints apply equally well to standard computers, so lets get rid of those. Also the printing press created far more problems than it solved--lets revert back to singing songs around a fire.

    • by gnapster (1401889)

      2) If kids can't write/express succinctly on paper or read a book, what makes you think that some shiny $500 tablet will?

      One thing that computers do much better than dead trees: instant feedback. I teach and tutor mathematics, and many students appreciate receiving prompt correction not just on the final answer to a problem, but the incremental steps. Computers are good at generating exercises on a theme, and the software is getting better all the time. This kind of assistance was previously only available through close interaction with a human, and it applies to learning in a variety of areas, including writing and readin

  • I think many and doctors think so. Everyone who can be is diagnosed with ADDHD or autism, and let the lifetime of pill popping begin. Kids that are docile, obedient, and never talk. That is what will save the world!

    All kidding aside, what will determine if the the tablet will help kids learn is the same thing that helped determine if the laptop, or desktop, book, or pen helps kids learn. Are they properly trained in their use. Do they understand them as tools or simply entertainment. I mean why is a

    • by jon3k (691256)
      "I mean why is a book and pen and paper so out of vogue?"

      Books - because I can store a few million on a Kindle/iPad and take them anywhere, along with having them delivered wireless and nearly instantly.

      Pen and Paper - because the only time I use a pen and paper is to sign my name.

      That's like asking why we use Excel instead of paper spreadsheets. I'm not sure how the answer isn't immediately and painfully obvious to anyone.
      • That's like asking why we use Excel instead of paper spreadsheets. I'm not sure how the answer isn't immediately and painfully obvious to anyone.

        Because it's difficult to get Excel to run on Linux?

        • Because it's difficult to get Excel to run on Linux?

          It's probably easier than paper, though. I find that using wine just makes it soggy and discolored.

      • by macshit (157376)

        That's like asking why we use Excel instead of paper spreadsheets. I'm not sure how the answer isn't immediately and painfully obvious to anyone.

        I'm sure you love your kindle etc, and for you it may be the best thing, but the comparison with a spreadsheet is silly.

        The sort of tasks most people, even "casual" users, use a spreadsheet for are hugely cumbersome to do on paper. So it's "immediately and painfully obvious" that a spreadsheet is better than paper for such use.

        The same can't be said of ebooks or electronic note-taking for much typical usage: while having a million books with you might be cool, for many people it's completely pointless m

  • by Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @07:37PM (#39566925)

    As I've pointed out in other threads, I work in a school where we're slashing budgets but somehow can afford to buy ipads for all the classrooms. Sadly, the ipad isnt well integrated into the curriculum, there isnt an IT strategy or plan nor people to do something if there were one. Waste of money.

    Creativity? Sure. We had etch-a-sketches for that sort of thing, and play doh and finger paints. Seems they're just electronic versions of the same.

    • by cookiej (136023)
      Heh. The iPads aren't your problem. The BoE in your district appears to be suffering from a severe cranial/anal inversion. Purchasing *anything* without a cogent plan for what is purchased is a waste of money. If they're so lost, go out and hunt down a few apps to get the tablets out of the "etch-a-sketch" category. The good news is that someone *might* backfill some infrastructure and the iPads could still end up providing value.
  • by pclminion (145572) on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @08:31PM (#39567377)

    We observe clear addictive behavior in adults who use the Internet to consume media. Being able to carry the Internet with you on your phone or tablet obviously exaggerates these effects. So you really should be asking yourself, does it make sense to not only expose, but force, children to use devices that clearly lead to addictive patterns of behavior when used by adults?

    I own a tablet, and I find that I can no longer entertain myself effectively by reading a book. Instead of grabbing a book I impulsively reach for the tablet. Instead of sitting down for two hours to work on something in a concentrated way, I find myself becoming distracted regularly and goofing off with the tablet. My wife and I both exhibit these addictions and we will often sit on opposite sides of the house, isolated, browsing random shit online. Yes, a computer can do all these things but you don't sit at a computer 24/7 (well, most people don't). With a phone or tablet it's trivial to carry the addictive substance with you everywhere you go.

    I allow my older son to use the tablet for about five minutes per day. And even that is perhaps too much. When it's time to stop, he gets combative and irritable. It reminds me a lot of how I used to behave when I couldn't smoke a cigarette. The only way you could not notice that this is a bad thing is if your head is up your ass.

    No, we should not be exposing children to this any more than necessary, and we should definitely not REQUIRE it!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I allow my older son to use the tablet for about five minutes per day. And even that is perhaps too much. When it's time to stop, he gets combative and irritable. It reminds me a lot of how I used to behave when I couldn't smoke a cigarette. The only way you could not notice that this is a bad thing is if your head is up your ass.

      No, we should not be exposing children to this any more than necessary, and we should definitely not REQUIRE it!

      Congrats on winning the most INSANE argument award. Try giving your child ANYTHING they like then taking it away after 5 minutes and you'll get the exact same response. Heck same goes for an adult. Ask me to do anything meaningful within a 5 minute period per day and I'll probably end up "combative and irritable". You're the kind of parent that would see smog in city air and pollution in the water and react by trying to limit or starve your children of both air and water because they are addicted to them. G

      • by pclminion (145572)

        Sorry, no. I will not permit a four year old to "zone out" into a media-connected device. Honestly, I'd rather he not use the thing at all, but I'm not the only decision-maker in his life so I compromise on it.

        I allowed him to watch a 30 minute Charlie Brown Halloween movie back in October. When the show was over, he flipped his lid, punched me and demanded that I somehow make the show continue. That sort of behavior is called "withdrawal."

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You just taught him that it's always you who withdraws him from something. It's therefore natural for him that you also were responsible for the show stopping. And he's annoyed at you taking away things from him.

          Also, I'd not be surprised if he develops ADD. After all, he's not allowed to pay attention for an extended time.

  • Tablets are okay for teens but my younger children prefer chewables.

  • I'll let the author speak for herself.
    (I haven't read her book, as yet):

    + http://www.ted.com/speakers/sherry_turkle.html [ted.com]

    (Her talk is under 19 min's in length.)

  • by Pollux (102520) <<ge.ten.atadet> <ta> <reteps>> on Tuesday April 03, 2012 @10:46PM (#39568145) Journal

    When I first got into teaching, I got in towards the late-end of a district's adoption into an all "leftist" exploratory K-12 math curriculum. I'm sure most of you are familiar with at least one series that falls into this category. We had "Math Investigations" in grades K-5, "CMP" 6-8, and Core-Plus 9-12. The core concept of this series was that teachers were not supposed to teach rote-learning of math facts. Calculators would supplant that "old-fashioned" method of learning. Kids grew up learning how to "explore" math, rather than memorize addition & multiplication tables, practice procedures repeatedly, and churn out page after page of "drill n' kill" problems.

    I got these kids in high school. When we ended Core Plus and reverted back to a traditional textbook, they couldn't do 40% of what you would find in an Algebra I textbook, because they did not have these basic math facts. They couldn't divide, so they couldn't factor. They couldn't calculate powers, so they couldn't understand square roots. They could not see patterns in numbers, because they had never learned to calculate. When they let the calculator do all the calculations, their brain never stopped to watch the patterns that were emerging.

    Now we want to give iPads to kindergartners. Has anyone stopped to think about what basic skill sets we'll be depriving these children of that we adults take for granted? The ones we take them for granted because we grew up w/o iPads to impede learning basic skills...skills like social interaction, self regulation, dialog and public speaking... Forgive me, it's been a while since I've studied child psychology, but there's a significant amount of neurological development that occurs in elementary school and continues on though middle and high school. Has anyone really stopped to examine and consider the long-term effects of significant exposure to this technology, especially at such young ages?

    I may have grown up with a computer, as well as most slashdot readers out there. But it's mere empirical evidence to say, "Look at me, I turned out fine." (Besides, your concept of "fine" may include living in your parent's basement at the age of 35.) Are there any real studies (rather than some questionable poll) that have examined this subject?

  • to help them learn. Oh, you meant tablet computers, not a couple of No-Doz :)
  • My daughter is four years old. Her favorite iPad game at the moment is robot brothers. [108km.com] She plays it obsessively, though limited to 30 minutes or so per day. It is a puzzle solver game, and she's persistently stayed at it, solving level after level, for weeks. It is not just teaching her problem solving, but also the patience and focus necessary to doggedly pursue a goal. Seems like a good thing to me.

  • Godness gracious, the authors of this article just single-handedly solved one of the most urgent mysteries in modern medical science! And to think of it, we were blaming vaccines the whole time!

  • Mr Wiki tells us:

    Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior.

    So is it no wonder if you give a child a device that takes time away from social interaction, impedes communication and tell them to play this game on it where they do the same thing over and over...

  • We are talking about _computers_ here, one of the greatest tool to man. We barely had a glimpse of what they could do in education. However for that you need computers the child itself can program. Kids are smart, give them a decent environment and they will learn. Xerox did some research on that in the 1970s.
    http://archive.org/details/AlanKeyD1987_2 [archive.org]

    However tablets in their current form are just simple playback devices. They are dumbed down in dumb ways, by removing essential features like programmability.

Any sufficiently advanced bug is indistinguishable from a feature. -- Rich Kulawiec

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