Like many households, every person in my home has their own iPad. I want to say I'm ashamed of that fact, but I'm really not. We are a digital family, and with that comes tablets, but does playing on an iPad affect my child's social skills? I will admit I'm noticing some disturbing consequences of my son's iPad addiction.
In 2015, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Pediatrics, published a bombshell article linking screen time to developmental delays, hyperactivity, speech disorders, and generalized social delays. This was followed up by the AAP changing their guidelines for parents in regards to their child's screen time. They suggested a multi-layered approach which hinges on solid parental involvement.
The AAP advised putting a family media plan in place that outlines expectations of use, amount of time allowed, and real, set, screen-free time. Megan Moreno, MD, MSEd, MPH, FAAP, and lead author of the policy statement on media use in school-aged children and teens said, "Parents can set expectations and boundaries to make sure their children's media experience is a positive one. The key is mindful use of media within a family." They know it's never going to be a perfect situation (nothing is), but the key is a proper management of resources and direction given to your children.
However, does playing on an iPad affect my child's social skills, if every other child is also using them?
An article in Psychology Today takes the AAP article and turns it into the mushroom cloud of mom shaming, saying "[t]he device does the thinking forthem, and as a result, their own cognitive muscles remain weak." This is in spite of research that shows that there are apps that can help children's readiness to learn in school.
I spoke to French social anthropologist Marine Bertrand PhD about the research and what it means for our children. "No doubt we are seeing a decline in social cognitive functioning among post-millennials," she tells Romper via FaceTime. "Children are overall less likely to engage in imaginative play than they were even 10 years ago, and that is disturbing. Not only that, but when it comes to person-to-person interaction, we're seeing muted social cues in children who are heavy users of digital input, yet when the tablets or computers are taken away, we're seeing reactions very similar to those of people who are addicted to gambling or shopping."