Kids and iPads: Too much technology too soon? - New York News

Kids and iPads: Too much technology too soon?

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PHOENIX -

IPads and tablets are becoming so mainstream, you can find them in classrooms all over the valley.

But what about kids even younger using iPads? What about kids who haven't even reached kindergarten yet? What about babies using iPads?

There's an ongoing debate over the effects of all this technology. Is it helping our kids or hurting them?

There are temper tantrums over it.

"All day every day he'll wake up. He has it. I want him to go to sleep, he falls asleep with it," says Waisheung Diaz. Her son is an iPad addict.

One woman posted online: "my son is not even two years old and he's addicted to the iPad. What do I do?"

But for this valley couple, the iPad is a pretty handy learning tool. And their 4-month-old son Alexander loves it.

"He started playing with my phone. He was interested in the pics I was taking, he would grab the phone to look," says mom Robin Samudio.

So mom Robin Samudio started downloading some of the apps for kids on her iPad. Dad Rey was amazed at how quickly his infant son caught on.

"He gets really focused on it and it's hard to distract him with something else," says Rey. "I didn't think he'd be entertained by it being so little, but he is, that's what scares me."

"It worries me… I want him to have social skills, not be focused on the iPad. If someone's trying to talk to him I want him to look at them, not just be like ok."

"Those are legitimate concerns -- how is technology impacting our children," says family counselor Cesar Gamez.

Gamez says the term "digital natives" is now being used for kids growing up using all this technology.

"One of the things we are seeing is these kids are growing up with good tech skills but are beginning to struggle with face to face interaction. Suddenly kids in daycare are having trouble sharing playing in teams, they demand a lot of attention."

Besides the social aspect, there are concerns of the impact of all the stimulation on a child's brain, but because this technology is so new, there's really not a lot of research on any long term effects.

Dr. Sanford Silverman has studied attention deficit disorders for more than 20 years. He says being too plugged in could result in "over stimulation" -- the need to constantly be "entertained."

He calls it "attention deficit trait."

"People are looking like they have ADD, short attention span, impulsive, hyper, shifting their attention constantly, easily agitated, losing information and getting irritable over it, so we have to be careful of not over exposing our kids to technology like this," says Dr. Silverman.

He uses a machine to train people's brains to focus. He hooked me up to it to demonstrate. First he attached three sensors to track my brain waves.

The goal of this exercise is to move the boat in the middle.

"I want you in your mind to tell the middle one to go above the other ones."

The more focused I am, the farther ahead it moves. The more distracted I become, the farther it trails behind.

I try texting at the same time to see what that does.

"We can only focus so much at one time... so anybody that says they're texting and listening to you, really isn't listening to you."

He says it takes time to shift focus from one task to another, so if you are trying to talk, tweet, and text at the same time, it can put your brain on overdrive.

Now imagine growing up in a world where talking, tweeting, and texting all at once is typical.

The Samudios say the bottom line for parents is to put boundaries in place when it comes to technology.

"I think it's a good tool for the kids to use and I don't think it's harmful. As a parent you just need to regulate how much time your child spends, rather than giving as much time and using it as a babysitter," says Robin Samudio.

If you want to limit your child's time on an iPad, well, there's an app for that. Several, actually.

Timelock, Screentime, and Computer Time let you control how much play time they get on an iPad.

TIMELOCK: http://74.cz/en/time-lock/index.php

SCREENTIME: http://www.screentime.org/

COMPUTER TIME: http://www.softwaretime.com/

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