Spending too much time using iPad and similar touchscreen devices could affects muscle development in children, according to a new study that tracked youngsters over their first five years of lives. The research which aimed to see how the use of device influences physical, mental and social development of children was carried out by researchers at Curtin University in Perth, Australia.
The study compared 10 youngsters aged three and four who played with electronic devices versus those who played with traditional toys. According to Physiotherapy professor Leon Straker, children who used iPads moved their upper limbs and whole body less in a 15 minute period compared to those who played with toys. However, they also observed that children who used iPads moved more than when they watched TV.
On the other hand, children playing with traditional toys moved their upper limbs three times as much as when using an iPad and six times as much as when watching TV.
Their findings also suggest that children playing with traditional toys moved their whole body twice as much compared when using an iPad and three times more when watching TV.
Prof. Straker cited two reasons why use of touch screen devices can cause children’s muscles and bones not to develop well.
“One, they may spend more time sitting rather than running around and playing and miss the stimulus this provides to build strong muscles and bones and two, they may spend more time in a poor neck posture with little neck movement which may make them more vulnerable to neck pain,” he told THE DAILY MAIL UK.
But Prof. Straker added that the use of iPad may be less problematic than watching TV since these devices can be used in a variety of postures. He recommends young children to spend about 15 minutes on touch tablets and not more than an hour a day in total on all electronic screens.
Are Mobile Devices Harmful to Young Children?
Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine have found that mobile devices like smartphones and tablets can be harmful to kids when used for mundane activities. They discovered that this particular type of technology could interfere with a child’s problem solving skills as well as growing sense of empathy.
Moreover, the devices may also replace activities pertinent to the development of visual-motor and sensory-motor skills of children.