Sunday 17 February 2019

Tablet devices 'can cause depression in children'

Overuse of screens can lead to isolation, depression, stress, anxiety according to the CEO of Early Childhood Ireland
Overuse of screens can lead to isolation, depression, stress, anxiety according to the CEO of Early Childhood Ireland
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Thinking of buying an tablet device for your child for Christmas? Think again.

Overuse of screens can lead to isolation, depression, stress, anxiety according to the CEO of Early Childhood Ireland.

A leading childhood care representative has challenged a recent study that has described tablet computers as a "vital new weapon" to combat poor reading in young children.

"We would certainly not encourage parents to run out and buy screens to encourage young boys to read more, based on this report," Teresa Heeney said.

"What parents have to 'gift' their child is the time and space to set up this habit of book reading."

Read more: Parting with Peppa: Why saying goodbye to the pig is harder than you think

The study, by the National Literacy Trust (NLT) in the UK, found that children aged three to five read for longer and had a better grasp of vocabulary when accessing touch-screen technology.

Parents are being told to turn to tablet devices to get boys interested in reading amid fears large numbers of children are shunning books at a young age.

Furthermore, researchers said that boys were more likely than girls to use tablets for longer and for educational activities.

Curious

Yet Ms Heeney maintains that the advent of this technology is "not helping the reading population in Ireland". "Some adults might be curious and somewhat intrigued at seeing how their young children relate to apps and screen-based games, seeing this as some sort of novelty, or sign of intelligence.

"But parents and guardians are certainly doing their child no favours by introducing screen time too soon and too often," she said.

Read more: Parents should ban tablet computers before bedtime for good night's sleep - teachers' group

The report from the NLT was based on a survey of more than 1,000 parents with young children combined with a poll of 567 early years workers.

Traditional books were still the favoured reading method for all children to read but researchers suggested that boys and infants from poor homes were increasingly shifting to technology.

Ms Heeney acknowledged parents must accept that "screens are a big part of a child's world" and maintains the solution is striking a "balance rather than banning all screen activity".

Irish Independent

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