The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a new paper that states that digital media can be used to enhance skills and abilities. This is in contrast to a previous stance that expressed negativity towards the amount of time children spent on digital media. The AAP has found that digital media can facilitate reasoning and problem solving skills, enhance a child’s ability to follow directions and improve self control.
This statement represents a significant reversal on the AAP previous stance. The attitude of the AAP towards digital gadgets had been a prevailingly critical one. In 2013 they declared that digital media negatively affected children and teenagers. It had advised parents to limit the amount of screen time children were exposed to, diminish their digital media exposure and to keep electronic devices out of children’s bedrooms.
Since then, smartphones and tablets have become ubiquitous. In the United States, over 30% children experiment with a mobile device while still in diapers. This percentage increases with age. Recent information indicates that 75% of teenagers have a smartphone. Of those, almost 30% of them use it constantly.
The Academy convened a group of pediatricians, thought leaders, media and science researchers and key organization representatives to review the issue. They found that parents should participate in digital media with their children and that it should be viewed as a tool instead of a babysitter.
The Co-Founder of Click-A-Brick, Jason Smith, speaks about the AAP’s recent findings. “Technology is an essential part of our lives,” Smith said. “It’s a bit shortsighted I think to disqualify it. Digital gadgets are everywhere. The focus should be on how to use them to improve critical thinking and problem solving skills. At Click-A-Brick, we believe they can be a complement, and even a boost for parent-child playtime.”
Despite the recent findings of the AAP, other experts maintain that digital screen time may still be problematic for young children. A group of researchers from the Brookings Institute contend that simple toys are better for a child’s development than electronic devices. For example, blocks help children formulate spatial reasoning and promote geometric language.
Georg de Gorostiza, Co-Founder of Click-A-Brick, expresses his opinion on the AAP. “We should seek balance,” de Gorostiza said. “There’s research that establishes the benefits of utilizing toy lines like the ones we develop at Click-A-Brick. However, there’s no denying the presence of digital devices in our lives. We should seek to enrich our lives with them. If we aim to build a society with strong knowledge in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, then let’s continue to grow together.”
The formal recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatricians will be the focus of Pediatrics for the 21st Century program prior to the 2016 AAP National Conference & Exhibition.
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