In 2011 iPads and Tablets were owned by as little as 4.2 million people in the UK. Fast forward 7 years and we are looking at 18 million tablet users.
Quite a crazy statistic hey? But maybe not as shocking as a recent survey from UK Council for Child Internet Safety who has published research claiming 1 in 4 babies under the age of 2 and more than a third of 3-5 year olds have their own iPad or Tablet.
It’s not surprising then, that there are a plethora of children’s Apps, YouTube channels and websites that are both educational and interactive yet Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield stated:
I am very concerned about screens for babies. It is deeply depressing and has no place in the baby equipment list.
Whether you agree with it or not, baby and toddler manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon for every piece of kids equipment to feature some clever way to attach a device within arms reach of their little one.
More traditionally the MagnaDoodle (remember them) is now a fully fledged responsive interactive iPad case, there are even potty’s, car seat attachments and highchairs embracing the Tech-Toddlers demands for screen time wherever they are.
So how did it all start?
It’s common knowledge that the iPad was launched in 2010, however it was not actually Steve Jobs who paved the way of this technological marvel, it was Microsoft’s Bill Gates who launched the Touch Input Tablet Computer back in 2000, manufactured by Lenova.
It was a disaster.
So in 2002 Microsoft launched the XP Tablet – a new improved colour version of Touch Input, manufactured by Fujitsu.
On discussing why Microsoft failed to dominate the tablet phenomenon in an uncluttered market, Bill Gates said:
[Jobs} did some things better than I did. His timing in terms of when it came out, the engineering work, just the package that was put together. The tablets we had done before, weren’t as thin, they weren’t as attractive.
The launch of iPads and Tablets transformed the digital age…
By creating a revolutionary device that was small enough to be portable and large enough for businesses on the go, iPads and Tablets prompted a surge of sales to the technology market that continues to rise year on year.
The rise in sales has prompted the upscale of more hot spot wifi connections as users demanded better connectivity, whether that was to check emails, download directions or access Apps. Over time this has impacted to teenagers acquiring the latest hot-on-the-market devices, children having top of the range smartphones and has of course, filtered down into toddlers picking up on the trend. Or, their parents to be exact.
Children are our modern day crash test dummies in this realm of technological advances as there is not enough research to suggest potential harmful effects on developing brains,. However with over 2 million choices of Apps across Android and App Store respectively, it does not show any sign of stopping anytime soon.
Jordy Kaufman, Director of BabyLab, Melbourne states:
When scientists and paediatrician advocacy groups have talked about the danger of screen time for kids, they are lumping together all types of screen use. But most of the research is on TV. It seems misguided to assume that iPad apps are going to have the same effect. It all depends what you are using it for.
So let’s put this in perspective, how many times have you been in a supermarket or on a bus with a screaming toddler and before long the frustrated parent thrusts a device in the childs face and instantly they are pacified by the dancing, singing, colourful shapes?
Whether we like it or not, children as young as 18 months have a technological intelligence that generations previous have not had the opportunity to investigate.
Whilst adults look for logic, or even flaws, kids seem programmed to just understand technology without any instruction manual and appreciate it’s limitations without being constrained to them.
The iPad/Tablet world seems to be the Marmite of Technology and only time will tell the effects it’s had on a digital-first generation but as Professor Plowman, University of Edinburgh said to the BBC:
Almost any game, app or website can provide a positive learning opportunity for your child if you think about ways of supporting their play.
While physical activity, reading and other more ‘traditional’ activities continue to play a very important part in children’s development, most parents do rely on screen devices from time to time to engage their child while they’re busy with something else. This is not a problem in itself, just as long as children’s time is made up of a balanced range of activities.
However, as devices and technology have evolved to be more intuitive and creative, they have opened up a world of possibilities for children who previously may have been frustrated by the constraints of their abilities and their environment.