The Daily Iowan

Nadler: The babysitting iPad needs to go

Electronic overuse is making children lazy and impatient. Exactly what we don’t want.

300+DPI+Erik+Nelson+Rodriguez+Illustration+of+a+child+using+a+tablet+before+bed%2C+affecting+his+sleep.+TNS+2017
300 DPI Erik Nelson Rodriguez Illustration of a child using a tablet before bed, affecting his sleep. TNS 2017

300 DPI Erik Nelson Rodriguez Illustration of a child using a tablet before bed, affecting his sleep. TNS 2017

TNS

TNS

300 DPI Erik Nelson Rodriguez Illustration of a child using a tablet before bed, affecting his sleep. TNS 2017

Zohar Nadler, Opinion Columnist

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Remember being a kid and finding entertainment from whatever was around you? I recall my siblings and I going outside in the yard and playing for hours. For kids these days, it seems that screen time is taking over outside and creativity time. Electronics like iPads have become the new babysitter. The bad part in my experience — kids today seem more impatient and irritable.

From working at a before- and after-school program, I have noticed that I get complaints from kids saying, “I’m bored” or “There’s nothing to do” despite there being many activities to participate in. I theorize that the rise in child boredom is a result of children’s access to electronics.

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Electronics can be used for instant entertainment. Children can play a game, click out of it, and instantly play another game. Being able to switch from game to game in seconds takes the creative challenge out of playing for a child. They don’t have to imagine or create a game, it’s just there. Moreover, the instant satisfaction of being able to play anything on an electronic device seems to make kids impatient and lazier.

Research shows that many children are hooked on electronics; this addiction to screen time releases as much dopamine as cocaine use. When reward pathways are overused, such as when using electronics for many hours a day, they become less sensitive and need more and more stimulation to experience pleasure. When I hear boredom complaints at work, it could be that the kids need more stimulation to make them excited or interested in an activity.

Adding on, screen time can also overload the sensory system and fracture attention. When the attention spans of children suffer, so is their ability to process their internal and external environment. In terms of play time at the before- and after-school program I work at, the contributions of too much screen time fracturing attention is preventing some students from being aware of all the creativity they have to make their own fun.

While electronics are helpful in keeping children occupied for long periods of time, it is not worth the consequences. An overload of screen time is making kids more irritable and impatient — something that will hinder their ability to thrive in their adult lives. We need the next generation to be innovative and focused. The beauty of children is their creative and innocent minds. I fear that electronics are taking this away from the kids.

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