Why Banning Devices for Kids is a Stupid Idea

by Jo on March 10, 2014

So I just finished reading an article on Huffington Post entitled “10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12,” and thanks to author Cris Rowan’s compelling arguments, I’ve removed all of the devices from the Ashline household in the hopes that it’s not too late for my precious children and I can somehow undo the emotional and developmental trauma they’ve endured as a result of their iPads.

Seriously?!

The fear-mongering in this piece is beyond outrageous, including blaming exposure to technology during early childhood on everything from mental illness to intellectual disabilities to “… increased use of restraints and seclusion rooms with children who exhibit uncontrolled aggression.”

Oh. My. God.

Children are not being put in restraints and seclusion rooms because of the side effects of handheld devices. In fact, the majority of children being put in restraints and seclusion rooms have special needs and are forced to rely on behavior – such as scratching, biting, hitting, kicking, and  self-mutilation – in order to communicate because they don’t have access to proper technology – such as handheld devices like the iPad - to assist them in their communication efforts. Another reason kids are ending up restrained and placed in seclusion? Poorly trained staff, lack of appropriate supports, and archaic approaches to behavioral intervention, to name a few.

An iPad mini never put my 50 pound, non-verbal, epileptic son in a floor prone for 12 minutes, that much I know.

I also want to touch upon the use of the word “ban,” in this piece. It’s a buzzword meant to cause alarm and scare moms and dads into submission. First of all, if you’re worried at all about your child getting too much screen time, then Rowan’s article – which is filled to the brim with frightening “statistics” ( I use that word loosely as she irresponsibly attempts to imply correlation as causation throughout her post) then you’re likely already implementing screen time with a balanced approach, and your child is doing just fine.

If, however, your 2nd grader is spending his free time playing “Grand Theft Auto V,” then what you have is a parenting problem, not a technology problem and banning devices isn’t going to eradicate crappy moms and dads. In fact, crappy moms and dads have been around long before handheld devices ever came on the scene. Back then, kids took to the great outdoors to engage in inappropriate behavior and beat each other up, instead of doing it from the comfort of their couches. The only real benefit of the good ‘ol days was that even though kids were getting into all sorts of trouble, at least everyone got their daily allotment of Vitamin D.

Guys:  The key to a healthy, happy, nurtured child is a parenting style that’s balanced, fair, educated, intuitive, loving, and realistic. Suggesting that we ban everything that may hint at a correlation with a negative influence or potentially hazardous outcome would mean we would have to BAN EVERYTHING. The only thing we should ban – crappy, self-centered parents who assume zero responsibility for the welfare of their offspring – is the one thing we can’t, so experts start listing off all the things we should remove from society instead.

Finally, allow me to give you the other side of handheld devices, since Rowan was so keen on providing an article geared towards that anxiety-ridden part of you that keeps you up at night wondering if you’ve permanently screwed up your kids (the short answer is yes, you’re human, you’re gonna make mistakes, but I promise, if it’s a monumental one, it likely won’t involve purchasing one too many alphabet apps for your preschooler).

My special needs son was given his very first iPad at the age of 9. If Rowan had her way, he would have had to wait until this Wednesday, when he turns 12, to receive his first handheld device, and then, he would only have access to it approximately 30 minutes per day. To this, I say, “Blllllrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp.”

Thanks to his evil iPad, Andrew finally has a way to communicate with the outside world. He’s also learned his alphabet, how to count to 20, and is learning to sight read. That’s right. My non-verbal, intellectually impaired son, who spent years upon years tortured by worthless worksheets and relying on what equated to rudimentary charades to convey simple needs such as hunger and thirst, has been given FREEDOM thanks to his handheld device.

There are thousands of kids like him, relying on these devices for speech, academics, and learning basic concepts you and I take for granted, such as emotions, personal boundaries, and safety and life skills. There are millions more who could stand to immediately benefit in life-changing ways from the use of this miraculous technology that literally puts access to the world in the palm of these children’s hands.

Andrew goes nowhere without his devices, and has two: One dedicated purely to communication, and one that is used for learning and entertainment. Both serve invaluable purposes and both are front and center in his daily life.

According to Rowan’s article, my kid is screwed.

Except he’s not. And neither are your kids.

Dude. If you’re super worried about it, buy some Eco-friendly, non-toxic blocks, bust out your favorite pan flute CD, and schedule in some sun salutations with your kiddo throughout the day. Then, when it’s time for lunch and you need 20 minutes to finish your hemp seed quinoa salad, harness the power of your nearest handheld device by handing it over to your child so you can finish cooking without losing your bleeping mind.

In other words, take a deep breath, and take articles such as the one Rowan has written with a grain of salt. You’re much better off worrying whether or not your child is being a kind, compassionate, world citizen.

You know. The kind that would share her handheld device with an awesome kid like mine.

**Update***

I took a video of my son Andrew using his evil handheld device today. Check it out and see the horror for yourself!

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{ 121 comments… read them below or add one }

Tricia March 10, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Great writing as usual Jo! Not to mention with these guys being the technology generation if they wait until age 12 they will be hopelessly behind! That would lead to more drop outs etc. Probably when books were invented there was someone who said don’t let kids read the books they need to be out experiencing the world when just like the internet, books let us learn about other cultures and places in the world we will probably never see in person. I think perhaps the time writing this article could have been better spent volunteering in a school and really helping kids!

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Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg March 10, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I would like to point out out that I have been on the autism spectrum for 55 years, and was raised with plenty of air and sunshine, played baseball, climbed trees, ran around the woods, listened to records (on a RECORD PLAYER!), got my first Brownie camera at 9, and took tests with number 2 pencils. The most complicated gadget I owned before I was 18 was a manual typewriter. I got my first electric typewriter as a high school graduation present. So if gadgets cause autism, how does one explain all of the autistic adults over the age of 25? It’s ludicrous.

I’m so, so, so sick of articles that ignore the history of disability — as though disability were an entirely new thing caused by Evil Technology, rather than something that’s been around since forever. And the confusion of correlation with causation is such a basic error that I don’t understand how any piece that commits it ever gets past an editor.

Rowan’s fear mongering serves only to further guilt mothers who already feel like they’re not doing enough, to bring page hits to HuffPo, and to bring attention to her professional practice. I don’t consider those good enough reasons to read anything, much less write it.

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suki March 10, 2014 at 11:13 pm

Who is saying that devices cause Autism? I’ve never, ever heard anyone say that. Perhaps it was mentioned in the article, but then I must have missed it. I think the point is is that kids are spending much more time inside on devices rather than outside (or inside) playing. It becomes addictive for kids and adults. Is “banning” the solution? No, but having everyone at home “turn off” would be helpful.

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Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg March 10, 2014 at 11:57 pm

suki, maybe go back and read the article before assuming I’m responding to something that isn’t there. See this portion of #5:

“5. Mental Illness
Technology overuse is implicated as a causal factor in rising rates of child depression, anxiety, attachment disorder, attention deficit, autism, bipolar disorder, psychosis and problematic child behavior (Bristol University 2010, Mentzoni 2011, Shin 2011, Liberatore 2011, Robinson 2008).”

It’s not the first article I’ve read blaming technology for autism (and just about everything else under the sun). I’ve been reading this stuff for years.

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John March 13, 2014 at 10:05 am

Before you tell others to go and read the article, you should do so yourself… Suki is right. nobody blames technology. Just read the first words of the paragraph you quote: “Technology overuse is implicated…” – it’s not technology, it’s OVERUSE that causes the problems…

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Lisa March 10, 2014 at 11:59 pm

Suki – Here what was written in the article:

“5. Mental Illness
Technology overuse is implicated as a causal factor in rising rates of child depression, anxiety, attachment disorder, attention deficit, autism, bipolar disorder, psychosis and problematic child behavior (Bristol University 2010, Mentzoni 2011, Shin 2011, Liberatore 2011, Robinson 2008). One in six Canadian children have a diagnosed mental illness, many of whom are on dangerous psychotropic medication (Waddell 2007).”

If her point was that kids should spend more time playing outdoors than indoors playing on devices (which I can agree with), then she should have said that. But that is not what she wrote. Instead she used the boogey-man of autism and mental illness as a means to frighten parents into calling for an absolute ban on technology for kids. That is not cool. My child does not need to be judged that the device that helps him interact with others is the “cause” for him acting differently.

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Michele March 10, 2014 at 8:22 pm

You use the iPad to give your child a voice. I just light up when I read about how it is helping him communicate. AMAZING!! Awesome – and really unimaginable only a few short years ago.

Devices can also be used to take that voice away for hours a day — to shut up kids. I want to hear from my kids, even if it interrupts my “hemp seed quinoa salad.” Especially, I’m often reminded through your blog, when clearly expressing their voice is a gift that shouldn’t ever be taken for granted.

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Gerrit March 11, 2014 at 3:26 am

-Which she addresses when she says the solution is parenting, not banning…

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Michele March 11, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Gerrit – got it. I just love Jo and all her posts that make me go “hmmm . . . .” and force me to examine what side I come down on an issue. I was honestly just trying to show support by leaving a comment. But I couldn’t really think of anything to comment on banning – because that’s just a ridiculous proposition!

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Tracy Biggs March 11, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Michele- I agree with you. Even as an adult I find spending too much time on the computer makes me anxious and it simply takes time away from family and friends and being active. We all need balance in our lives. Also, Michele, you have the ability to state your opinion without bashing someone elses. Wish more people would speak this way on facebook.

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Autism and Oughtisms March 10, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Great post, thank you for writing this, I’ll be sharing it around.

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Carlee March 10, 2014 at 8:41 pm

iPads and other technology can be amazing, incredible and life-changing for kids like Andrew, who have no other means of communication. Taking away Andrew’s iPad is taking away Andrew’s voice and is not only cruel but just plain wrong.

But for a neurotypical kid? Who is able to communicate by talking/writing/reading? Keeping them away from hand-held devices and TV isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s an individual parent’s choice — and, well, let a thousand flowers bloom.

I’m 29, didn’t get cable until I was a senior in college, used a computer for schoolwork only and didn’t get a cell phone until I was 22 (and my job required the work cell phone they assigned me). Waldorf-educated. My kids are 6 and 4 and Hubby and I have chosen to adopt a No Handheld Devices / Minimal Screentime Approach to parenting – the kids have no electronic gizmos, we have no cable and a DVD player that is rarely used. It works great for us. (We’re not obsessively anti-screens, so the kiddos happily play handheld device games at friends houses, watch TV when they spend the night with their grandparents, etc).

Other parents have other parenting approaches that work great for them too. Let a thousand flowers bloom — and don’t demonize any non-abusive approach to parenting.

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Jo March 10, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Right. So you are making the decision for your children, which I respect. But that’s not what the HuffPo piece is saying to do. It’s saying to BAN all handheld devices for children under the age of 12. So that’s my beef. I don’t take issue with your decision at all, especially since it doesn’t impact my decision to have technology front and center in Andrew’s life. That’s the difference. =)

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suki March 10, 2014 at 11:26 pm

Carlee, couldn’t agree more with your statement. Having a teen is much tougher now though to control the usage because a lot of her time is spent doing homework on devices, where she can easily jump from screen to screen (FB, instagram, games, etc…).

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Ivonne Aviles March 11, 2014 at 11:39 pm

Just because one did not have something at a particular age doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the “right” way. Your grandparents probably didn’t have their own rooms or even their own beds. And you probably had things that your parents did not. Life is too short. Live it to the fullest during your lifetime because you might miss out. Live your era not your parents and don’t impose yours on your children. There’s a reason for generations.

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K.M. O'Sullivan March 10, 2014 at 9:59 pm

YES!!! Love this essay, especially this line:

“If, however, your 2nd grader is spending his free time playing “Grand Theft Auto V,” then what you have is a parenting problem, not a technology problem and banning devices isn’t going to eradicate crappy moms and dads.”

Technology has never been the problem. Technology has, in fact, been the solution to a whole host of things. Everything in life requires balance and what is balanced for me may not be balanced for the next guy.

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Lindsay March 10, 2014 at 10:45 pm

Life is going to be very different for our children than it was for our parents. It’s irresponsible not to familiarize them with the tools they’ll be using as adults. My kids love Minecraft and play it together, each on their own computer in the same ‘world’. They collaborate, bicker, and cooperate to build worlds and rout the bad guys, build villages, and solve problems. They tell each other long, involved fantasies as they play, giving backstories and planning the future plot lines as they build their landscapes. They do need more vitamin D, but they’re certainly not being harmed by using computers.

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Heidi March 12, 2014 at 8:28 am

My kids too! If anything, technology has given my kids an outlet and avenue for amazing creative and problem solving endeavors. My ADHD kid ( who was diagnosed before we even had any hand held devices, btw) uses MS paint to create amazing art and shares it with a supportive online community (deviant art) where people don’t see here as that ‘kid with ADHD’ but as just another amazing artist.
All four of my children have almost unfettered access to technology at our house and they still choose to turn off and go to the park or play outside often.
I feel that my job as a parent is to know what they are consuming via technology and to make sure I collect/shut down everyone’s devices when it’s time for bed.

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Mandy March 10, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Thank you for writing this. That HuffPo piece made my skin crawl. I’m an educated parent with two awesome kids. I can do my own parenting, thanks. I don’t need the government banning technology to force me to parent a particular way.

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Ivonne Aviles March 11, 2014 at 11:48 pm

Yes, the article has made my skin crawl as well and I have had some arguments with friends on FB. I am 63 and since 1970 started working in front of a computer terminal. I have grown up with them and was a reresentative for Sabre, travel software used by travel agencies, for many years. I was responsible for about 125 accounts in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. I had to train many travel agents throughout Latin America and take them, like we liked to say, ” from the Flinstones to the Jetsons. So. I had to train my travel agents to transition to the Internet and lose my job in the process. I also had to learn how to overcome their resistance to change. At this point in time I am in shock that there is such an aversion to such an efficient and interactive way to communicate and learn.

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suki March 10, 2014 at 11:22 pm

I can’t jump on the bandwagon here and agree with everything you’re saying. I think it’s great that the iPad has helped your son and there are certainly positives associated with technology and hand held devices. However, if your son was getting say, art therapy, music therapy, movement therapy, etc… those all benefit people on the spectrum (and all individuals with all abilities). I don’t believe the iPad is the only way to reach your son, and I’m sure you’re not saying it is, but please, come on, the Arts are really what reach individuals and they are not isolated activities the way devices often are.

So, no, I don’t think devices should be banned and are all bad, but kids and adults spend way too much time on them and not enough time being creative. That’s becoming a lost art.

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Jo March 10, 2014 at 11:39 pm

My son has and continues to receive, a well-rounded therapy diet. And you’re right, I’m not saying the iPad is the only way to reach my son. What I am saying is that it’s given him a level of independence and security he might not otherwise have known. And it’s given him language, which has and continues to be, absolutely priceless. I take issue with fear-mongering, which is what this original article is doing to parents. And the fact that the author is suggesting devices are “banned,” is ridiculous and irresponsible. You can “ban” them in your home all you want, but to impose those kinds of nonsensical and ludicrous limitations on the rest of us is laughable. The arts are wonderful, but remember, there a great deal many ways to experience them. My son will not tolerate a concert, no matter what the music may be, but he loves music, and can safely access it on his device at a volume and rate that is both tolerable and meaningful for him. He loves art, but has sensory issues and low muscle tone and underdeveloped fine motor skills that prevent him from painting and drawing but with the iPad, he is able to trace and fill in colors and explore in a way that would otherwise prove extremely difficult for him. You see the device as isolating. I know it to be liberating, based on watching what is has done, and continues to do, for my child. Our experiences shape us, and my experience has been nothing short of miraculous.

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torako March 11, 2014 at 4:01 am

seriously? are you trying to imply that her son is only getting the ipad and no other intervention? that is just… so incredibly gross.
and uh, the arts are great and all, but i don’t see you doing an interpretive dance to say you need to go to the bathroom.
and i wasn’t aware that my use of “devices” such as my computer to communicate with others over the internet was an “isolated” experience. i’m sure it’s much less isolating to force myself into situations where i’m uncomfortable and unable to communicate what i’m actually thinking. i’ll keep that in mind.

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Sean's Mom March 11, 2014 at 12:57 am

This is my actual comment to a early education teacher (yes a teacher!) who posted that article….
” Sorry, I have to argue #2 for all the parents of delayed kiddos out there. Her statement suggests that the [1 in 3 children now enter school developmentally delayed…] are delayed as a result of restricted movement. That isn’t fair. There are a myriad of reasons why a child could be developmentally delayed. (e.g. medical, mental, physical and emotional.) That is a pretty loose use of that stat. Not to mention, that the author is the CEO of the company she is promoting (Zone’In), her source (HELP) is a Canadian research company and using a study, regarding technology, from 2010 to support a 2014 article is probably not the best resource. Especially if you take Moore’s Law, and the exponential growth and advancement in technology, into account. The following is a more recent evidence on how technology is aiding, not impeding, the development in delayed children;
“iPads help late-speaking children with autism develop language.”
“All of the children in the study learned new spoken words and several learned to produce short sentences as they moved through the training. Peabody College was one of three centers that worked on the study, along with University of California–Los Angeles and Johns Hopkins University. Building on findings from this research, Kaiser has begun a new five-year long study supported by the National Institutes of Health’s Autism Centers of Excellence with colleagues at UCLA, University of Rochester, and Cornell Weill Medical School.”
“For some parents, it was the first time they’d been able to converse with their children,” said Kaiser, Susan W. Gray Professor of Education and Human Development at Peabody. “With the onset of iPads, that kind of communication may become possible for greater numbers of children with autism and their families.”
Source; http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2013/11/ipads-autism-language/

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Cel Reese March 11, 2014 at 1:12 am

Today one of my students told me he finds it ironic that he is not allowed any screen time whatsoever, at all (Orthodox) yet both of his parents are constantly texting and ignoring them, and stare at a screen all day. I thought that was great. I couldn’t argue there. Be the example.

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Jen Schrad March 11, 2014 at 2:11 am

YES and thank you! As a mom to a 9 year old son with Asperger’s and a 6 year old with Down syndrome, technology like our laptop, iPad and iPhones have been game changers. We had no idea how much our largely nonverbal daughter knew before the iPad. My son has also benefitted from apps and even MineCraft. Thank you for being a voice of reason. —Jen

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Jenrose March 11, 2014 at 2:22 am

My special needs almost-9-year old has had an iPad since shortly after she turned 7 and we figured out that she was already reading, silently to herself. We couldn’t give her books because she tears them into smithereens and then eats the pieces, and often we couldn’t understand her at all… so we asked friends for help and within 24 hours had all we needed to get her the iPad, case, apps and insurance.

It opened up her world. It improved (but did not cure) her frustrated behaviors, and brought joy to her life. I mostly kept videos off while her (typically developing) brother was a baby, but around the time he turned 18 months and school was out for the summer, I let her watch pretty much all the signing time she wanted.

And HIS language exploded. Boom. At 2 he speaks in paragraphs, manipulates puzzles on the iPad with ease and is the most socially at ease kid I’ve seen in our family in decades. He gets a fair amount of screen time but he still loves playing outdoors, running indoors, and is an amazingly typical kid. If it has “hindered him”, well, so be it, he seems just fine, and his sister is way way ahead of where she was without the iPad.

And I wouldn’t have survived summer vacation without it, because my own disability keeps me from diving into it with the helicopter mom activities. There’s only one iPad. They never get it in the bedrooms unless we have a specific special circumstance (i.e. toddler needs nap, Mama needs nap, special needs kiddo does not but must be nearby and safe).

It does not have to be all or nothing.

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Kate March 11, 2014 at 2:54 am

I was so shocked at that article. It just didn’t sit well with me. She was clearly trying to use scare tactics and manipulate me into feeling something. Didn’t work… I know I’m a good mom doing the best I can. I don’t have a special needs child, but my kids have also benefitted greatly from hand held devises. My 5 year old can recite facts about space, dinosaurs, science, nature…. you name it… and none of it is stuff I taught him. Or ever could have taught him for that matter. I love that when he asks me a question and I don’t know the answer we can look it up and he can research it to his hearts content. Is everything he does educational? Of course not. Do I sometimes use it as a babysitter? You bet! He’s the youngest of 4 and we are a very busy family. But now he is by my side all the time at his older siblings events instead of at home with a babysitter (probably just watching tv anyway).

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Holly A March 11, 2014 at 3:09 am

“You’re much better off worrying whether or not your child is being a kind, compassionate, world citizen,” written sentences away from the highly judgmental statement ” If you’re super worried about it, buy some Eco-friendly, non-toxic blocks, bust out your favorite pan flute CD, and schedule in some sun salutations with your kiddo throughout the day.” Way to get your point across while judging others at the same time.

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Jo March 11, 2014 at 3:27 am

I’m actually not being judgmental at all with that statement. I love the pan flute and quinoa is a food staple at my house. I admit, I don’t do nearly enough sun salutations, but we all have areas in which we need to improve. My point in that paragraph was balance, and I merely offered suggestions on how that balance may be achieved.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Katrina March 11, 2014 at 4:00 am

I really appreciate this. My baby is 15 months old and we are very limited with our screen time except for the falling asleep to Gilmore Girls. I read the first few sentences of the mentioned article and had a COMPLETE melt-down yesterday. I was too freaked out to keep reading and promptly banned all screens from my baby. This helped me gain much needed perspective and to just calm down. I have my reasons for limiting screen time for the purposes of making other activities the first choice for my family but I need to remember that I “am not turning my babies brain to mush” as I repeated over and over again last night.
In any event, I really appreciate what you wrote and the peace it made me feel. Sometimes this parenting thing is hard and it’s nice to be able to hear all perspectives and to be able to look at things the way we need to.

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Michele March 11, 2014 at 4:09 am

#5 – when the author wrote that Autism is a mental illness, all credibility was gone. In addition, all of her linked research articles don’t support her case. One is from Norway and was about teenagers playing online video games, one didn’t have any definitive conclusion and one was comparing internet usage and alcohol usage in Korean industrial workers. Way to grasp for straws.

My daughter has Auditory Processing Disorder and has issues communicating. She also has issues with reading comprehension. She has a Kindle Fire and her reading skills have improved since using it – because it’s interactive. I’ve worked with children with Autism and Developmental Disabilities for 17 years. The introduction of the iPad/iPod for communication is huge. I’ve seen children who have been non-verbal speak full sentences once they have the ProLoquo app. To say that they need to be banned in full in just absurd.

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merry March 11, 2014 at 5:23 pm

“My daughter has Auditory Processing Disorder and has issues communicating. She also has issues with reading comprehension. She has a Kindle Fire and her reading skills have improved since using it – because it’s interactive.” So is human contact, human interaction. Technology is no substitute.

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Jo March 11, 2014 at 5:36 pm

Boy Merry, you sure have all the answers!!! I’d love for you to write a guest post on this blog so you could provide more of your wisdom and reach a wider audience. Special needs parents would especially be grateful if you shared your firsthand experiences with providing necessary interventions without the use of technology. I’m particularly interested in your professional opinion on (as I know others in my shoes would be too) how we can eliminate these pesky devices and still provide a “voice” for our non-verbal children. I have a feeling I know what you’re going to say, but I’d much rather if you told us yourself!! I bet you’re one of those “autism specialists,” right? It sure sounds like it! What district do you work for? =)

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Tree March 14, 2014 at 8:44 am

What doctorate did you earn? What large-sample research study did you conduct? Which sources did you cite?

You write a knee-jerk reaction that gets the support of other emotionally charged readers, bravo! But all you really did was react to something you didn’t like with a page full of opinionated conjecture.

Rejection of an educated proposition because you have some anecdotal experiences is the height of arrogance. But, hey, so many people love what you say, it must be right!

Don’t think you’ve got me pegged, either, because I don’t like some of what was written either, but I’m not so ignorant as to suppose that I must know better based on the useless sample size of myself and some people I know.

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Bryan March 11, 2014 at 6:46 pm

merry- do you know how much of our income that special needs parents shell out for hours upon hours every week, of various therapies and treatments with specialists (yes humans who ‘interact’ with our kids)? Do you know what is proving to be an aid that is improving how rapidly our children are making advances against their handicaps? Ipads! Kindles! Heck, I even keep my daughter’s version of Proloquo2Go on my phone in case we are ever somewhere and she doesn’t have her ipad with her. These devices are miracles for these kids (and adults with the same handicaps). They are gateways to the world around them, that they are otherwise locked away from inside themselves.

Who cares about your opinions anyways. Someone like you could never help my kid. People like Jo DO.

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Michele March 15, 2014 at 12:02 am

Merry,

You are assuming (and you know what they say about assuming). This is on top of daily tutoring, weekly speech therapy and her reading aloud to me each night for 30 minutes. I’m guessing you thought that I just lock her in her room and throw the Kindle at her.

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Courtney ODell-Chaib March 11, 2014 at 4:43 am

This. This is just absolutely perfect. Your humor totally made my day. When some mommy on Facebook posted that bullshit from journalistic heavy butter huffpo up on fb today it really hurt my feelings. I felt like she was speaking directly to me. We also have a son who is different. He has some development delays and a feeding tube. We use the iPad at restaurants so he is able to sit long enough for it to be a pleasant experience for all of us. I frequently get dirty looks and probably unsurprisingly from the tone of this piece it’s not from the over 50 crowd but other mothers who give me the dose of side eye. God forbid we have a little solidarity with one another. While I have a thick skin by now some days I’m caught by surprise by the complete blindness some folks are to being judgemental. Keep on keepin on special kiddos- you change the world just by being you.

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Tree March 14, 2014 at 8:46 am

When will you be releasing your research that contradicts that article? Oh, you just don’t LIKE it. I see.

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Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg March 11, 2014 at 6:18 am

A friend pointed out the following link to me, apropos of the HuffPo piece and your own:

http://iacknowledge.net/2-year-old-uses-facetime-to-contact-paramedics-after-his-mother-was-attacked-by-a-dog/

Look at the awful, terrible, no-good things that happen when children under the age of 12 use gadgets. We must remove these devices from the hands of our young before it’s too late!

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Tree March 14, 2014 at 8:48 am

Wow! That single moment of use COMPLETELY wrecks the original author’s message! Oh, wait, the author was specifically discussing daily childhood use starting at infancy. So, I guess your comment is pretty useless in this context.

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Trish March 11, 2014 at 11:25 am

I get what you’re saying, but considering neurotypical children, these links shed some light on the Huffington Post article. Just saying… I’m a teacher and it is WORRYING seeing children completely unable to concentrate on one thing for even the shortest span of time. It is startlingly obvious to see the difference in concentration levels between children who spend a lot of time with digital media/devices and those children who do not.

If you love your kids, please just have some common sense.

http://www.worldcrunch.com/tech-science/does-the-internet-make-you-dumb-top-german-neuroscientist-says-yes-and-forever/digital-dementia-manfred-spitzer-neuropsychiatry/c4s9550/#.Ux2gCXmI7mq

http://www.dw.de/manfred-spitzer-neuroscientist/a-17399781

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Ivonne Aviles March 12, 2014 at 12:12 am

The internet is a big word. Please say what program on the internet makes you dumb. Does looking up cirtiques on books and movies make you dumb? Does reading Pride and Prejudice via Kindle make you dumb? Does taking quizzes on world geography make you dumb? Does looking up and reading the world’s newspapers make you dumb? What specifically on the Internet make you dumb?

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Tree March 14, 2014 at 8:50 am

Did you conduct research that contradicts the article? Oh, no, you just like to hurl rhetorical questions rather than provide an actual reply that addresses what was discovered. Not to worry, people do that frequently when they’re being defensive.

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Cliff Nickerson March 11, 2014 at 12:06 pm

3rd paragraph from the end was jingoistic name-calling bullying. You’re trying to insult anyone who disagrees with you or who embraces any of the things in the paragraph . How are you any better than the guy who wrote the original article?
You really should be ashamed of yourself.
(I don’t eat quinoa, do yoga, or use eco-friendly blocks. But I do believe that you should respect other people.)

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Oy March 11, 2014 at 5:53 pm

I didn’t see any name calling and the friends I have that are super cautious about things like food wouldn’t take offense. More importantly, the “guy” (actually a woman who unfortunately isn’t doing anything to subvert the hysterical female stereotype) who wrote the article was misreporting studies, misrepresenting various diseases and disorders, and calling for a blanket ban on technology in the interest of self-promotion. I’d say that’s a heck of a lot worse than gentle mocking of hyper vigilant parenting.

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Tree March 14, 2014 at 9:25 am

Sexist much? Yes, that was sexist.

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Tree March 14, 2014 at 9:24 am

I’m conducting an experiment on your children, and it may have significant detrimental side effects. Maybe not, though, let’s just see what happens, ok? Some researches are upset, saying that my experiment will cause bad things to happen to your children, and they have research to back it up, but I’m going to disregard them and push ahead anyway. All I’m going to do is give your child a… Oh, I see your child is already happily playing with a tablet… Nevermind, everything seems ok. Everything must be fine.

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Missy Hartwell March 11, 2014 at 2:50 pm

This was great. I read the same article and took a deep breath and thought of how my dad would LOVE that post. He needn’t be bothered with his autistic grandson since it didn’t come from his side of the family (his words not mine) and after all, it’s because of my bad parenting by letting him watch tv when he was young. His stupidity was affirmed, by more stupidity. Unfortunately, many share this askewed view of autism or children that are a little more work than others. They were able to read that harmful post yesterday and look down from their self-appointed perches to all those bad parents out there and feel nothing for disabled children because they use ipads and ipads are bad.
It breaks my heart.
The Truth is that God has found favor with us by teaching us about sacrificial love. I love my autistic son. I am grateful that he has his ipad. That finally, after all these years, he’s communicating! What a joy to know he’s got a way to voice and express his thoughts and he has something that brings him joy, like his ipad. You know, those things play music, too! Wonder what the harm is in listening to music from a hand-held device?
Thanks for the great response. :)

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Penny March 11, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Awesome! Way to go! I really appreciate people who stand up to those in this world who fear monger just to get a little attention. The article you are rebutting felt like I was reading an old-time ad for a snake oil miracle drug. “It cures all that ails ya!” Really?!? Not letting children learn how to use the essential tools of modern society is going to prevent autism, mental deficiencies, and people having anti-social tendencies? Huh, wonder why all those things existed 20 years ago then? As an additional note, the true professionals at Children’s Hospital Colorado (one of 7 Autism Network Treatment Hospitals in the US) recommended getting our autistic son a touchpad device to help with his eye/hand coordination. Sure enough, even though he only uses his device a limited time per day, his handwriting at school has improved dramatically.

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merry March 11, 2014 at 5:18 pm

People were fine without all these tech tools. Yes autism existed , not in the numbers we now see though. And socially, kids are pretty messed up these days. Thanks cell phones, ipads. :(

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Oy March 11, 2014 at 6:00 pm

Really?

Last I knew children with autism or who were deaf and blind were just locked away in asylums are worse. Even in recent history many disabled children were isolated. They may not have been locked away in asylums but forget about having the opportunities today’s technology now affords them.

You know, braille is a tech tool, too, as are cochlear implants, prosthetic limbs, wheelchairs, etc.

And what of those kids born with significant disabilities?

Are you suggesting they were better off before they had wheelchairs and computers they could use to communicate and be more self-sufficient?

Incidentally, autism used to be under diagnosed, meaning there were more than those we were aware of. Today, it’s over diagnosed.

Yes, it’s bad to be strapped to a cell phone or IPad 24/7 in absence of a disability, but calling for a blanket ban rather than teaching effective use of technology is the very definition of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, to say nothing of the time and expense enforcing it would create when there’s more pressing concerns.

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Jo March 11, 2014 at 8:28 pm

I think I love you Oy.

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Montana Buntragulpoontawee March 11, 2014 at 3:22 pm

Hi! Jo! Nice to meet you. What a great read!
I’m a mom-of-two and a rehabilitation doctor who also see special needs children and I couldn’t agree with you more on the “balance” concept.

I remembered a child occupational therapist gave a nice lecture on how to apply ipad apps therapeutically for children with cerebral palsy in an international neurorehab conference a year ago! I even loaded some of those apps for my boys (age 4 and 2 now) because they help with fine motor skills!

I think it’s not really fair to put the blame on the device because it doesn’t have the mind of its own, however, we, as parents, therapists, doctors, educators or just simply “adult” have to take the responsiblity on how,when and why we let children use the device.

Both of my boys do have screen time and ipad time. The point here is it’s limited and an scheduled access. The kind of exposure that distract kids is that of leaving TV on all the time during their daily activities.

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Bryan March 11, 2014 at 3:28 pm

My daughter also uses the two iPad approach, and it has greatly enriched her life. I can’t imagine the addition horrible frustration she would feel if she didn’t have them.

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carol March 11, 2014 at 4:02 pm

I totally agree with you. Your Andrew is lucky to have you for a mother. You are clearly a wonderful, supportive parent and advocate for your child. Yes, there are many children who don’t have the quality of parenting that you give your son. In many cases T.V. and computers stand in as babysitters–for hours. The Huffington Post article is for those parents, not you. I am a teacher and have witnessed the difference in social skills and attention span between typically developing children who spend hours using hand-held devices and those that do not. It is a parenting problem. Sadly, the parents who would benefit by reading the Huffington Post article probably won’t read it. I do believe that typically developing young children are neurologically better off not being exposed to hand-held devices.

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Charlie Robinson March 11, 2014 at 4:27 pm

This was great, right up until the “hemp seed quinoa salad” paragraph, when it just smarts of equally mindwashed corporate America.

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Full Spectrum Mama March 11, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Um…wow. I read your post and was impressed by your nuanced approach, tickled by your polemical points, and moved in particular by your distinction between parenting issues and technological ones. What surprises me is how strongly people seem to feel…on behalf of other families. It seems sort of *obvious* that people with concerns should avail themselves of the information out there and make their own decisions, no? Just sayin’…
Love,

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merry March 11, 2014 at 5:16 pm

If any one part of the article it true, it is enough to listen and take the devices away from children. Personally I don’t think any children need to use phones, computers, or any hand held device, they need to be children first. Learn to play and imagine, build character and social skills, before computer skills. Why expose them to the radiation? Why take away communication by means of speech and writing? Technology is a vice, start early with it and it will remain a vice throughout their lives.

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Bryan March 11, 2014 at 5:54 pm

My daughter has a way to communicate and learn now, that’s why. Please do what is best for your house, and people such as myself will do what is best for ours.

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Oy March 11, 2014 at 6:13 pm

What of those children who don’t have a means of communication to begin with?

Braille is a vice?

Prosthetic limbs are a vice?

Computer based aids for the disabled are a vice?

Or did you just mean media when you said technology?

If people are going to start calling for bans, they need to be very deliberate in their word choice. And what of the legal ramifications?

Who decides what “good” tech and “bad” tech is? How much time and money will be wasted on regulation and legal matters?

That’s why pot is being increasingly decriminalized. Should people become potheads? No. Is a ban easily enforceable? No. Is it cost efficient. No. Does it have some medicinal and therapeutic benefits? Yes.

Technology (such a broad term) is even less harmful and has far greater benefits. Women are already underrepresented in STEM fields, in part because they utilize technology less as children. Now you want all children to fall behind?

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Jay March 11, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Seen it firsthand. Nephew is 4 and half and all he does is want to play angry birds or watch tutorials on youtube to get better. I feel kndles, ipads, etc is not helping in anyway positive unless he has “special needs” and has issues “communicating”

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Lynda March 11, 2014 at 8:19 pm

When will people learn that moderation is the key! As a child of the 50s and 60s I was fascinated by our color TV…one of the first on our block. Now, had my parents let me watch it 24/7 it would have become a problem. But they didn’t. I got plenty of exercise on my bike, skates etc, I got my homework done, practiced my piano like a good little girl and got to watch my favorite shows. Balance and moderation. It’s the same with today’s kids. Yes, they have more options for “technology” but the same thing holds true… they can use it as long as it doesn’t take the place of human interaction and good old fashioned playing and they use it in moderation!

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Don't care March 11, 2014 at 9:13 pm

You are an idiot. You don’t have any research to back up what you say anymore than the OH MY GOD! Fear mongers do at the huffington. Didn’t care for your article and I didn’t have kids because that would be stupid in this day and age. Hope you all get cancer from the radiation exposure from phones and TECHNOLOGY!

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Jo March 11, 2014 at 11:58 pm

And you’re an asshole.
I think the whole not having kids was the right call dude.

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Lynda March 12, 2014 at 12:21 am

Holy smokes “don’t care” !!!! All this hostility over a difference in thinking??? Cancer??? You would really hope that? Wow, I feel sorry for you and hope you get some help. I think you are more dangerous and toxic than any radiation ! Please get some help. blessings!

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Ivonne Aviles March 12, 2014 at 12:23 am

Anyone who wishes cancer on someone else is not a well balanced individual. Did you dedicate too much time to technology as a child? Because your education certainly has been neglected.

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Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) March 25, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Seems you “Don’t care” to take the time to investigate what the research really said. Fortunately, I did and all of the research supporting the ban was flawed. Interestingly, the original author works for a company that profits off parents and educators who fear technology. Ulterior motive maybe?

Those interested in checking out the holes in her research can read this Huff Po Parents piece http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-nielsen/10-reasons-why-the-resear_b_5004413.html

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Shellibean March 11, 2014 at 9:58 pm

My kids have had electronics and television since the age of 3. my youngest is 4 and she was having trouble in school with her alphabet, got a game on my kindle for her and boom, she learned! My son, who is 8, has had a ds, xbox, and as long as he keeps his grades up and stays on green (not getting in any trouble) in school he will be rewarded with a nabi or samsung galaxy tab for kids. He plays hockey, baseball, is learning the piano and is in cub scouts. Oh did I mention he is a straight A student and he loves to read. During school nights they may get 30 minutes to an hour of gameplay to relax if we arent running around with sports, dance(for my daughter) scouts or even bible study. He does not have autism or anything but if he did I would probably do the same thing

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Tawnya S. March 12, 2014 at 12:22 am

The problem I have with this article is that Jo is missing the entire point of the Huffington Post article she is responding to. The point is that more and more parents are simply allowing their children to spend their entire day ignoring playing with friends and family, doing afterschool activities, homework, even sleep and instead are spending their time playing video games and watching TV. This was an article geared towards those children who are behind developmentally due to their over usage of technology and not to those who have problems from biological or chemical abnormalities. My son certainly never watched any TV at all until the age of two. I restrict and closely monitor his usage according American Pediatrics Association regulations. The result? He is not technologically or developmentally behind, but is in fact light years ahead of other children his age. In fact I often get comments on how smart, insightful, and articulate he is, especially from professional educators. How is this? Because the one to two hours of tech time he gets a day is plenty to learn and understand how technology works and how to use it. Then the rest of the day is free for…oh my goodness, get this…REAL playtime! Research has shown that very young children learn best through play. Not tech games, but real interactive play with adults and other children. Technology isn’t bad, it’s amazing! And I’m glad that my son has these new inventions available to help him see and understand the world like no other generation has been able to before. However, the old adage is still true and very applicable here: Too much of a good thing, is BAD.

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Jo March 12, 2014 at 1:08 am

I’m not missing the entire point of the article, which I believe, was written to help amazing, perfect mommies like yourself feel better about themselves, while simultaneously giving the rest of the parenting population a nervous breakdown.
The point of the article was to scare parents into submission. It was not at all coherently informative and relied on the fact that most people believe correlation implies causation. It does not.
It also called for the ban of handheld devices for children under the age of twelve. As of today, both of my children qualify in that age range and I have a hearty opinion regarding Rowan’s suggestion to eliminate all technology for my kids.

So yeah. Didn’t miss the point at all.

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Jeanie July 10, 2014 at 2:28 am

Why so angry and condescending? We are all trying to do the best that we can for our children. I don’t think anybody thinks he/she is the perfect parent. Your children and many others obviously benefit from the use of technology, but I don’t see how Tawyna was out of line.

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Briana March 12, 2014 at 1:33 am

I am an adult with Asperger’s syndrome as well as Harrington Rods from Scoliosis surgery. I developed complications from that surgery such as an awkward gait and a limited range of motion. I find no one wants to hire someone in my condition, and I can never concentrate on enough courses at once to get through a college education. I find that going independent is my best option. So I am starting a gaming company. What is my main market? HANDHELD DEVICES! How else will I test the games I create?

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Luna March 12, 2014 at 1:40 am

I don’t have kids, so obviously I cannot comment from a parents’ perspective. But I can offer the perspective of someone who has grown up with ever changing technology becoming a big part of people’s lives. When I was in elementary, dial-up Internet was this cool new thing and by the time I graduated high school, everything was all about the iPods and iPhones and laptops with wireless Internet. Times are changing, and we’ve got to learn to keep up stop living in the past.

This article is wonderful, and the original article made me cringe. Besides the ridiculous “ban the scary technology from your children” vibe, most of Rowan’s points are just plain wrong and teaching parents what not to do.

A lot of the points that people seem to make are just faults in parenting that they’re trying to cover up by using a scapegoat and in this case, it’s technology.

“If, however, your 2nd grader is spending his free time playing “Grand Theft Auto V,” then what you have is a parenting problem, not a technology problem and banning devices isn’t going to eradicate crappy moms and dads.” This sentence couldn’t be more true. My brother, friends, and I have all grown up with video games. When we were in second grade, we had the old Nintendo systems and none of our parents allowed us to buy things like GTA or Call of Duty. All that’s happened to us is that we liked playing video games and still do. Do we also like going outside and having fun in different ways? Of course. If you’re buying the game for a 7 year old knowing it’s meant for 17 year olds, then that is your own fault.

I was 11 when I got my first cell phone and by that point, most of my friends were beginning to get them as well. We weren’t allowed to call our friends or text them because our parents wanted to keep phone use restricted to being able to reach us in case of an emergency. Thank goodness too, because one year later the schoolbus stalled and I was able to call my mother. Yeah, I realize that once upon a time they didn’t even need phones and kids didn’t need phones to reach their parents. But in this day in age, parents can be so much more comfortable knowing that their 6th grader is easy to reach and even has access to 911. Again, if your 10 year old has a full call/text/data plan on their expensive iPhone and you don’t like that… you bought it for them. Know the consequences before blaming technology for your poor parenting choices.

My friends and I all had restricted Internet and computer access. We weren’t allowed to sit from 4PM until bedtime chatting on MSN because we had rules. If you are going to give your child anything with Internet access, be it a laptop, iPod, or tablet, then you are going to need to set rules and parental controls. Your child isn’t letting themselves have six hours of computer time a day – you are.

As for the whole technology causing autism/an increased rate of autism, where is this woman getting her facts? Are we going to ignore that autism is not something that’s emerged in the last 10 years? My basic Psychology course taught me that correlation =/= causation. If there’s been an increased rate of autism, there’s no way to prove that it has anything to do with technology exposure without running experiments on humans over a long period of time. Also it is no one’s place to judge parents for being happy with what technology offers their special needs children. Some forms of therapy can be very expensive and although it sounds nice to try them all to find one that works for your child, it’s just not that easy for most parents. Obviously the iPad is not the only way to teach a child and parents with special needs children already know that. But if it is helping – and possibly helping the child develop skill much faster than before – who is anyone to judge parents for using it?

I agree with you 100% when you say that parents should be more worried about whether their child is “being a kind, compassionate, world citizen.” I see so many parents these days that are completely capable of spending time with their child and yet they choose to shove a device in their hands or buy them whatever they want to keep them distracted instead. Then a couple years down the road, they’re questioning why their child prefers to spend time with their electronics than with their parents. It all comes down to teaching children how to use things in moderation and when to make time for family or friends or other activities like sports. In sixth grade, I had a computer and a Nintendo and I still went to my dance classes and went swimming with my friends every single weekend.

Just my two cents on the whole thing.

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Jo March 12, 2014 at 2:27 am

Luna:
You are one smart cookie. And I like you a lot.

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Emily March 12, 2014 at 1:54 am

NOT ALL PEDIATRIC OTs ARE AS DUMB AS ROWAN! I am an OT and when I read Rowan’s article I yelled at my husband for 20 minutes ranting and making all of the same, exact points! I want to apologize on behalf of my profession! I use my personal iPad more to work with children like your son than for personal use, and I have seen amazing things! Thank you so much for putting out there the message any good OT SHOULD have written!

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Melanie March 12, 2014 at 2:39 am

Lmao! I am totally one of those moms who buys Eco blocks, eats quinoa, and does sun salutations with her kid. But I also let my almost-3 year-old self-regulate her use of electronics. She’s smart, playful, curious, animated, and loves her iPad mini. She doesn’t play with it all the time and I’m honestly not overly concerned. We let her self-regulate in general. Now, I know that there have been numerous scientific studies suggesting that screen time is linked with many issues. However, letting my daughter have control over her own life and choices trumps that for me. Her iPad is helping her learn to read and practice speaking French. Did I mention she’s 2 years old? Life is about balance! We do lots of imaginative free activities too. Love this post.

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Jo March 12, 2014 at 3:51 am

Melanie! I love me some quinoa! =) I still suck at sun salutations but hope to improve with time.

You sound like a fabulous mom. If I didn’t already have one that I loved to pieces, I’d ask you to be mine. (even though you’re probably younger than I am).

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Lynda March 12, 2014 at 4:21 am

I personally love the way Jo writes and makes her point. Of course there will be people that have different opinions and if those opinions are delivered in a “respectful” way, it makes for good discussion. To those who have attacked Jo and called her names, shame on you! Technology can be a wonderful thing when used properly. For the government to ban something and tell us how to parent our children is a slippery slope that I don’t think we want to go down!
Thanks Jo, for your perspective on this. Now, I am going to eat some quinoa and play some video games with my grandson! ;-)

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Terry Milholland March 12, 2014 at 4:28 am

I took note of the times the article mentioned ‘attention deficit’ connected to technology. My daughter is 32 and was diagnose with ADHD in 4th grade (her youngest son is ADHD). There where no i Pods when she was growing up. I’ve heard people claim TV remotes were increasing the rate of ADD and ADHD previous to handheld devices. I don’t even remember having a remote to our TV until she was much, much older. The problems she blamed on technology are far to important and complex for someone to place such a simple cause and affect to. That kind of thinking sets back real research, plus harms the sympathy, understanding and acceptance of those facing them by others. I live now and have lived with depression most of my life. I am 57, was my depression caused by technology too?

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Pat March 12, 2014 at 6:03 am

Giving every child an iPad is not a solution to everything or much of anything in the case of most children. Same goes for any technology. I am not a hippie type and had a home computer long before most, but I did not use that or TV or movie tapes as a babysitter for my son. Ever. He had an age appropriate safe play area for when I made meals, until he could sit on a stool and watch or participate, at age 2. He is a terrific cook. Outdoor activities were a priority every day – many and varied. He did not want to watch TV until he went to school and that’s all most kids had to talk about, so he watched only as much as he needed to join the conversation. His reading and language skills were far above average from early on. I introduced him to my AP computer with DOS 2 or 3 when he was 2. Simple games using only the keyboard and tiny little programs. By the time he started High school Windows was out and none of the other kids knew what DOS was. He is now an avid outdoors-man, carpenter, mechanic, and a highly skilled aerial communications technician (cell towers+), far above average in all things high tech and the most well rounded, well balanced, and capable young man ever. I cannot say the same for his peers that were glued to TV and videos from birth.

Only in the area of special needs children is a major involvement with technology going to be beneficial. That is one of the primary goals and purposes of technology – to augment and assist in order to level the playing field for as many as possible. It also opens the door for a segment of society to teach everyone valuable lessons in return.

The Huffington article over-generalizes as do most press items, and yes, scaring people with Autism is done far too often and rarely for good reason; but the main point is valid for most children. They need to see and experience a world beyond their fingertips from early life or they may never have a true awareness of it. The interesting thing is that often the opposite is true of special needs children whose world is often tightly wrapped around them. They can use technology to enable them to go beyond the end of their fingertips. ( and yes, I have worked with them – as a volunteer – throughout my life).

Perhaps that is the yin and yang of technology: for some it will isolate them from the natural world, for others it brings the world to them. All tools require wisdom in their use.

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Lynn Schofield Clark March 12, 2014 at 8:15 am

Nicely done! I just finished posting a blog on this topic on Psychology Today – now I’ve got to go back in and link to your post! Here’s my blogpost: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/parenting-in-digital-age/201403/why-banning-handheld-devices-kids-isnt-the-way-go

You’ll get the pingback in a minute.

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Stacey March 12, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Awesome. You go, MOM!

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Sandra March 12, 2014 at 12:55 pm

I think ban is a strong word but there is a lot of REAL research out there about neuro-pathways and the rewiring of them by the overuse of technology. Don’t dismiss everything the author says, there are some valid points in amongst the far-fetched fear based ones. But our media today is driven by fear based information, and that is why we can’t look to the media as our first source of information. As parents we must due diligence and as parents we must make our own educated decisions.

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Carol March 13, 2014 at 9:12 am

Sandra,
Good to hear a voice of reason citing the actual research and not just emotional response. There is a significant body of research that suggests a direct correlation of math skills with technology use, and it’s not a positive one. There’s also research that shows learning cursive develops neural pathways that printing and keyboarding don’t.

If we really want to help our kids, we will do as you suggested and do our homework to find out the facts and dismiss the hysteria on either side.

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Jinny March 12, 2014 at 1:37 pm

Whoa, one angry dude.

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Bern Fury March 12, 2014 at 2:48 pm

JO Ashline,

If you doubt the story read the research of Dr. David Walsh of the U of M in Minneapolis, MN. Media based life robs children of their imagination and important healthy play and outdoor time. It wise to listen to this I say …but people will do what they want and suffer later.

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Steven Brown March 12, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Nice read Jo!

Here is what I had to say to the Huffpo article:

“Seriously? I think we should ban ignorance and stupidity, but that hasn’t stopped you people from posting such nonsense now has it? Technology isn’t and never has been the problem. Parents are because they utilize it as a substitution for parenting. Technology isn’t a problem for obesity either. Allowing your child to sit around playing video games, texting, and what have you while consuming vast amounts of garbage the food industry passes off as food and the USDA allows it is. You so called experts in psychology et al are over medicating our children with a shotgun approach to diagnosis in an effort to cure something you perceive is a problem. Who is it a problem for anyway? All of these problems began to surface long before technology played a roll in it. I don’t need your ridiculous opinions or research. I have all of the research I need right in front of me every single day. And last, I would really like to know where you people get off on the idea that you’re such a subject matter expert such that you somehow feel you have the authority to decide what should be banned from society? That is rich!”

To expand on that, I have triplets, born premature, all of which are in accelerated gifted honors classes. When they couldn’t even speak, but could run around the house with diapers on, I provided them with a computer at their level to work with. At 18 Months old, they could put the CD in, Start the Computer, and Launch the programs. I only had educational programs available for them to play with. It helped them learn colors, shapes, numbers, the alphabet, refine motor skills, etc. Was it a substitution? Certainly not. It was a supplement. By the time they were in Kindergarten, they could easily navigate the laptop I provided for them, and when they entered the 4th grade, each had their own laptop and each were required to spend an equal amount of time on educational material including Mavis Beacon. The result? By the time they had any technology class available to them in school, they were already experts far exceeding the technology requirements. In 4th grade, they were building Power Point presentations and creating Excel Spreadsheets, not to mention Word Documents for reports. As High Schoolers, none of them have ever had a single standardized test score that was “Meets Expections” or lower. Every single score in every single category was always “Exceeds Expections” and in numerous instances one or more child received scores that were a “Perfect Score” in one or more categories. When you have a ninth grader that is taking Pre-Calculus, C-Programming, AP Physics, etc. because they have already exceeded all of the expectations available to them in the ninth grade, I submit to you technology didn’t have everything to do with it, but it certainly had a lot to do with it. They are doing things most adults can only dream of like creating websites complete with storefront, products, storecart, purchasing, credit card processing, and shipment. My ninth grader can do it. Can you? Yeah, we really should place a BAN on technology now shouldn’t we? If a million people believe in a dumb idea, it’s still a dumb idea.

Last, yes, there is a dark side to this technology. There are a lot of kids out there too immature to use it appropriately. You do have kids sending explicit pictures to one another, engaging in inappropriate conversations with one another, and anonymous bulling just to name some of them. It is your responsibility as a parent to police these activities and make adjustments where it becomes necessary. But the choice is yours. You can either try to protect your children from the world around them or you can prepare them for it. But just remember one thing; you can’t be there to protect them 24X7X365. Where do you want your child to be when inappropriate situations arise for them to process and engage?

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chavisory March 12, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Jo, I read that article, and could not believe that the author, *an occupational therapist* to boot, wouldn’t have considered kids who rely on screen devices to communicate. My first thought was about kids like Andrew who benefit from the communication flexibility that technology allows.

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The Truth March 12, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Last Child in the Woods
by Richard Louv

Read it and find a balance.

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Bad Dad March 12, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Wow, I must have been such a bad Daddy. I bought my first pc in 1982, FOR my kids. It was easy to see that for them to have the ability to compete in the workplace as adults, that it would be important for them to know how to use one. Several really bad things happened as a result.
1) I became so fascinated with how they work (after inadvertently deleting all the files – I was such a noob…) that after a few trips to the library and a little education, I made a career change and have now enjoyed working in the IT field for nearly 20 years.
2) My daughter is now gainfully employed as a database administrator for a Fortune 500 company.
3) My son operates his own business and takes full advantage of his tech toys.

The result of that purchase of a Radio Shack Tandy 1000? Certainly number 1, the others maybe, maybe not, but the notion that technology should be “banned” is patently ridiculous. Children can and do benefit from today’s gadgets. In my view, it isn’t the technology that’s harmful. It’s the failure of the parent to pay enough attention to the child to recognize behavioral changes that may or may not be ascribed to the child’s use of such devices. I’ve often been disturbed by the sight of a small child anxiously tugging on dad’s pant leg for attention while dad shushes him because he is too busy texting his best buddy or crushing candy. Sometimes parents need to put their own ipad away. While I am an advocate of technology, there are obvious social changes underway. The lunch room at my own workplace for example. Once a buzz of conversation and personal interaction it’s now a number of individuals with their noses buried in their personal devices. Good or bad? Time will tell but if it turns out to be bad, it won’t be because the technology itself is bad but rather how people choose to use it. Same goes for children using today’s devices. The proof is in the usage.

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bowainsmama March 12, 2014 at 6:00 pm

After explaining the gist of this article to my sons, my kind-hearted 9 year old told me he would like to invent a wireless device that would go in your pocket and would voice what is in your head to help non-verbal people communicate. He said it wouldn’t have batteries but it would run off the user’s life force. All that came from the mind and heart of a child who loves his technology as much as he cares about people.

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Jo March 12, 2014 at 10:30 pm

Um, favorite comment ever! What’s your son’s name, and would he consider running for president? I would totally vote for him! Give him a huge hug and high-five for me, okay???

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Linda March 12, 2014 at 6:03 pm

My biggest concern is the added exposure to radiation, which all these devices emit…there has been an increase in tumors near pockets where phones are kept, and testicular cancers, and temporal tumors from cell phone use…so it doesn’t mean we need to ban them, but exercising reasonable time limits and how they are held – not on laps, etc. would be part of my concern.

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Charles Ragland March 12, 2014 at 8:38 pm

Thanks for this. Your child obviously benefits from his devices. So does mine. Seems to me the peditricians recommending limited tech exposure were intending their advice for parents of so-called “neuro-typicals,” and not so much for parents of children such as your son and my son, who is near the wider-functioning end of the autism spectrum.

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lily beckett March 12, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Its also really nice to read books with children to teach them to read and count etc. of course its dangerous for kids to be on electronic devices. I work at a laptop one day a week and it drains me, i’m an adult! its really bad for their eyes, loads of electro magnetic radiation. Its proven to cause behavioural problems. I can’t believe you are slating the reports

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Debbie March 12, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Kids that spend all day long with technology do not learn communication and social skills necessary to be a productive citizen….. Face it, you know it’s the truth!

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Tiffany March 12, 2014 at 10:43 pm

No parent is perfect or does everything right all the time, but when the World Health Organization classififies my cell phone as possibliy emitting carcinogens I don’t need proof that it actually causes cancer to think it’s reasonable to limit my child’s exposure as much as possible. That’s just me.

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Shaun March 13, 2014 at 1:07 am

- Regardless of this articles, and everyone’s debate on it, I know of real tests done to gain untainted answers from unbiased parties. They were students rather than salaried scientists, which removed the possibility of tainted results due to business ties. The teams consisted of people with a mix of both pro & anti technology opinions, which leveled the field of bias.
– A core fact to keep in mind is that radio waves ARE unnatural to the human body & DO emit a radiation that is extremely harmful to most all life forms. There is NO debate on this! The question is how harmful are the amounts of radio wave radiation that these devices give off. Again, don’t be the fool who believes they don’t give off radiation – they do! Wireless devices transmit data through radio waves. Radio waves ARE electromagnetic radiation.
– Back to the test. Studies were done w/ a varying range of life forms, such as plants – younger, older, undeveloped, failing, thriving, etc. All were exposed to electromagnetic radiation (wireless.) The results were shocking to most as even the anti-tech people were not aware of the level of effect the radiation had. The pro-tech people were unanimously enlightened. The kicker – these tests weren’t run w/ expensive radiological equipment, as they were mostly students on a limited budget. They used cell phones, wireless routers & tablets.

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Shaun March 13, 2014 at 1:18 am

- What’s sad is that people are willing to use such devices w/out proper limitations, & even argue & belittle educational/informative stories, all because they don’t think it’s as harmful as people say. It scares me to think that I live among people who’s argument is that it’s “not as harmful” – any likely harm is too much harm. If you know your child is likely going to get hit by a car if they walk into the rd do you tell them to cross the rd slowly? Wireless IS radiation & must be limited if used at all. So it makes perfect sense to give your kids devices & teach them to subconsciously rely on them. What happens if the power goes out & batteries can’t recharge? Do they have an app for that? I know my family will survive.

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Jo March 13, 2014 at 1:39 am

Shaun. Dude. Are you for real? Did you just seriously compare the use of technology to getting hit by a car? See? How can I engage in a meaningful conversation with someone who resorts to fear mongering – much like Rowan in the HuffPo piece? While I can ALMOST appreciate your apocalyptic worries (not really, I’m just trying not to hurt your feelings), I’m MUCH more concerted with my son having immediate access to language via his handheld device than I am about life scenarios I cannot predict nor control (by the way, when you have a non-verbal son who speaks through the use of technology, you can bet your ass you’ve done your best to prepare for things such as dead batteries and power outages. Just FYI).

And yeah. Your family will probably survive if they’re self-sufficient and can wipe their own butts. My son cannot. He is completely dependent upon others for EVERYTHING, and yes, his device is towards the top of that list.

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Steven Brown March 13, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Seriously Shaun? What education and experience renders you an expert and authority on this subject? I’m an Electrical Engineer. I’ve studied quantum physics. Have you? Educational/Informative stories? I belittle the story because it is largely an exercise in a bovine bowel movement. You can turn off all of the devices in your possession, and you will still be bombarded with radiation. Utilizing your argument with the car, if that is your measuring stick, why would you let your child even get into and ride in a car? I mean, after all, the likelihood that your child will be involved in an automobile accident sometime during their lifetime is almost a 100% certainty. I would bet on it. And BTW, don’t use your microwave either, or your HVAC (Yes, it has electronic components emitting radiation), or the very computer you are typing this foolishness on. Do you people actually read the crap you are shoveling? My family too will survive, but then again, we both know that is hardly the point. When you people that support this nonsense can distinguish the difference between fact and opinion (fiction), and can present a logical and methodical argument, we’ll process and disseminate the information you have to support it.

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Laurie March 13, 2014 at 4:19 am

LOVE this rebuttal Jo! My husband and I were discussing the article Rowan wrote the other night and discussed the causation vs. correlation error. It is obvious to me that she was writing a piece purely to garner views, hits, etc… and thought that citing studies made her somehow more trustworthy. Completely irresponsible.

We limit our son’s technology use, and encourage a well-balanced activity schedule. Piano lessons, golf lessons, bicycle time… they all go WITH the technology. It’s no different than the t.v. we were raised with.

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jody March 13, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Ok…so Rowan’s arcicle was left field…now you happen to fire out a piece that is completely right field. As usual, I think some middle ground on using electronic devices is appropriate. The recommended times in Rowan’s article are reasonable. Maybe you could go outside and play with your kids…novel idea. Outside… Google it if you’re confused.

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Jo March 13, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Jody – my piece is hardly right field. In fact I’m pretty sure I used the word “balance.”

Reading comprehension.
Google it.

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Karen Crandall March 13, 2014 at 4:45 pm

The article might sound overdone, and it is a bit. But not much. I am a child therapist. Every WEEK this comes up in our weekly therapist meetings. Brain changes – yes. Behavior problems – yes. Parents refusing to be parents and put their foot down about limits? YESSSS. Technology has become your babysitter. Get a grip.

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Jo March 13, 2014 at 7:00 pm

So you just said what my point is: “Parents refusing to be parents.” Does that mean we “ban” things? I find it incredibly disheartening that a child therapist – someone who is presumably educated and licensed – would end her argument with “get a grip.” Remind me not to refer you to anyone Karen Crandall.

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Debbie March 13, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing anymore, right? Too much T.V., Too much gaming, Too much snacking, Too much drinking, Too much exercise, Too much dieting, Too much Too much, Too much. If I didn’t monitor my kids, they would eat sugar until they were diabetic, watch T.V. until their brains seeped out their noses and they would DEFINATELY play on their handheld devices until arthritis set in. When the sun is up, get the “Bleap” outside!!!

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HappinessSavouredHot March 13, 2014 at 7:08 pm

Although I do agree that those devices (and any screens/electronics) should not be banned completely, and that they can have benefits, I do think that they are largely overused.

I wish to see children who are able to wait in a waiting room or in the back seat on a car on a long drive to grandma’s without the constant entertainment of electronics. If they cannot, then they are addicted. And that cannot be good.

From someone who once was addicted to video games… I know what it can do…

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liz oconnell March 13, 2014 at 7:11 pm

Defensive much, people? While ‘ban’ was a poor word choice(how would that even work?), there is merit to the Huff article and good information to be gleaned from this blogger. If the parents of special needs children can better communicate with their kids by using technology, that’s terrific. If parents of healthy children eschew electronics and send the kids outside for fresh air and exercise, that’s very commendable. Let’s embrace the gray area and encourage all parents to make responsible, informed and loving choices for their kids.

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Brian March 13, 2014 at 7:47 pm

My 6 year old son has type 1 diabetes and wears an omnipod insulin pump. He uses technology to stay alive and uses the PDM interface daily. The Huffpost article is stupid.

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Heidi March 13, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Amen, great post. My child is severely physically disabled and until his ipad he had to rely on a mix of facial expression, eye gaze(for yes/no), and a few words which only family could understand. Then the ipad became part of his life and his world completely changed, he now has a voice. He can express his wants/needs so it is now very rare to have him melt down out of frustration. It has also allowed us to discover that he is so much further along cognitively then anyone every thought (he accesses his ipad with a head switch and uses proloquo2go with eye gaze). His ipad goes everywhere with him and attaches to his chair with a special arm. As you said good parenting is the answer and technology like so many other things is a tool. A tool which can be used very poorly and do harm or be used to do amazing things.

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Caleb March 14, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Children need to be exposed to technology. More and more careers in our society today require a high level of knowledge in the usage of technology. It is important that as kids get older and go through school that they are constantly learning the progress in capabilities of the technology used in the workforce.

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Jim March 14, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Thank you so much for writing this article. People are so quick to give advice to parents of special needs children without really knowing what we go through. They read an article here and there and then they know everything.

Anyway, felt very good to read this article and know that it is out there to offer a strong counterpoint to articles such as the one in huff.

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JoCalico March 15, 2014 at 5:13 am

I found this article because I googled the HuffPo one (which only served to irritate me and subject my poor husband to 30 minutes of how much I hate sheeple who eat up whatever the mainstream media feeds them). I LOVE how you say it. I found another blog that is a lot less direct, but I really, really like your style. It makes me laugh. Thanks for writing =)

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Mary Duers March 15, 2014 at 2:46 pm

I’m a pediatric ICU nurse. Don’t have much time to read facebook articles but took time to read the Ban the Technology for kids one. I thought “what a bunch of baloney” Your eloquent and intelligent reply restored my faith that the whole universe has not gone looney. Thanks. Now I’m starting to thing the original article was a hoax. I’m glad your child is doing alright for himself. I’m wishing you the best.

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Bob Bobbers March 24, 2014 at 7:25 pm

“eloquent and intelligent reply” . . . Honestly? She comes across like a rebelling teenager with all her (“Oh. My God”, like, no way! “Seriously?!)

I guess her medical background trumps that of the Pediatric Society. People should and need to manage the amount of screen time their kid’s get. Maybe not “ban” it all together, but at least limit/manage it.

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Melissa March 19, 2014 at 10:23 pm

Technology is tricky for this generation of parents because even adults today who were raised on too much TV weren’t able to do it on-the-go as children today can do so easily. I think the key to understanding why devices are problematic is to have a background in child development. (Which I do, but most parents have very little if any.) For me, the astounding stats on the effects of technology on young children are common sense, but less because of the device & more because of the parent type.
Young children (especially 5 & under) really shouldn’t be using technology very much at all because of the time it takes away from their natural development. Children that young already have so much to learn in just a few short years. With that being said, my son & daughter have had time with devices in very small doses without issue. However, I am also the type of parent that is focused on balance in their lives. Balance between indoor/outdoor, active/resting and all of the many needs that young ones have.
I also think it’s perfectly possible to screw your kid out of a decent childhood without parking them in front of a device starting at birth.
The bottom line is, it’s the parent’s responsibility to ensure balance in their children’s lives. And just like in the days before devices, some parents care and others feel that procreation was the extent of their responsibility.
It is true that devices aren’t good for children. However, the parents who are guilty of too much device time aren’t going to change. These parents are most commonly terrified of their children’s boredom, unwilling to put forth the time that parenting actually requires, and not one statistic about their bad parenting is going to change that. Even if these underachieving parents wanted to make a change, it would be tough since it’s hard to reteach your child who’s had an iPad for the first 6 years of his life that there is a world beyond the device. It would take too much time & effort for such a parent. Which is what leads to the high rate of psychotropic drugs … again, it’s easier and less time consuming than actual parenting.
I think the majority of parents realize that there should be a limit to device use … most realize that balance is important too. And the ones who don’t probably never will … not even if you ban devices for kids.
Each child is different. Each parent is different. I am doing my best and hope that every parent does the same (even if we strongly disagree on method).

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Kayla March 21, 2014 at 5:30 pm

This guy is saying his iPad helps his autistic son, as far as I can tell he’s uses the ipad to teach his kid instead of engaging with him and teaching him himself. He’s just defending his busy schedule. The woman does exaggerate a little in the proban article, but the fact is technology is dumbing dumb children cognitive skills. Research and information sharing is amazing and very useful. But not for the younger children, anybody that defends this is because they use technology as a babysitter, is my opinion.
I understand it makes it a lot easier because your child is zoned into their games or shows, but I implore you all to engage with your children, at least play the games with the child so they associate love and affection with learning, we used to do that with books but it seems to be a dying age.
I really do hope someday parents will stop using technology as a free baby sitter.

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julie gardner March 27, 2014 at 5:58 pm

So I met you last Sunday at the LTYM rehearsal and was jaw-dropped and floored by your beautiful piece. Thrilled to meet you. Excited to be a co-collaborator on this show. All that jazz.

Today, I think, “Hey. I should check out her blog!” and come to find out I’d READ THIS PIECE the day you wrote it. I loved it then, but I didn’t comment because my kids (as teenagers) are so beyond this debate I didn’t think I had anything relevant to contribute to the conversation. I figured if I said, “Hey. You haven’t met me but I’m Julie Gardner and I read this and think you’re awesome,” it would be stalkery.

So now I’m saying, “Hey. I MET you and I’m Julie Gardner and I read this (again) and now I KNOW you’re awesome.”

Keep on keeping on, Jo. You kick ass.

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CO Mom March 28, 2014 at 4:16 am

All great comments about how technology is helping special needs kids. I think balance is the key. More important to me is the item about radiation exposure though–no one has countered with comments about that issue. It should be a real concern for all parents. I believe a friend’s little guy was fatally impacted by cell phone/ipad use–perhaps he was genetically disposed to cancer but we’ll never know definitively. The industry isn’t going to fund studies to prove otherwise so caution should be the rule especially for young children.

peperperspective.com/2013/04/27/keep-mobile-phones-tablets-or-laptops-away-from-your-body-wireless-devices-may-cause-harm/

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