iPads and other tablets could affect children's ability to control their emotions

Boston University paper claims more research is needed

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The Independent Online

The emotional development of many children is being stunted by the excessive use of mobile technology, such as tablets or iPads, new research claims.

Child psychologists at Boston University School of Medicine in the US found that children who heavily used devices were unable to control their emotions.

Instead, they end up masking or displacing them on to technology-related activities.

Dr Jenny Radesky, a clinical instructor in Developmental-Behavioural Paediatrics at the university, said: “It has been well-studied that increased television time decreases a child's development of language and social skills.

“Mobile media use similarly replaces the amount of time spent engaging in direct human-human interaction,” she told the Daily Telegraph.

"If these devices become the predominant method to calm and distract young children, will they be able to develop their own internal mechanisms of self-regulation?" She added.

Dr Iroise Dumontheil, a psychology lecturer at Birkbeck, University of London, told The Independent that the research was not conclusive.

“Although there may be a problem, we really do not know yet because more research needs to be done,” she said.

Dr Dumontheil added: “All of this is still very new, but the review paper seems well balanced as they acknowledge there are some good educational apps that can be beneficial.”


The research, published in Pediatrics journal, did find that television programmes are educationally beneficial for pre-school aged children but that children ages under 30 months cannot learn from television and videos.

At this age, children are dependent on “real-life interactions”.

Researchers pointed out that the body of work examining the effects of technology on young children remains small.

They added that as paediatric guidelines “specifically regarding mobile device use by young children have not yet been formulated,” new guidance was needed as the ubiquity of such technology was only expected to increase in young lives.