Washington, D.C. (May 6, 2013)
Editor's Note: TV's
Answer Man, aka Swanni, takes your questions regarding how to
best use the latest products and services in TV technology. If
you have a question about TV technology, ask TV's Answer Man by
sending an e-mail to
Q. I have a
three-year-old son and I've been thinking about getting him an
iPad to help him get used to technology and be more interactive.
But a friend told me that some experts say a child can get
addicted to an iPad. Is that true or is it safe?-- Diane, Los
This rumor got started when the Sunday Mirror in London reported
that a four-year-old girl there was actually treated for being
addicted to using an iPad. The newspaper wrote that the girl got
the iPad when she was three and was now using it four hours a
day and will throw fits if her parents take it away.
The story was picked up by publications across the globe, leading
to widespread conclusions that the iPad is indeed addictive,
particularly for a child.
However, the Huffington Post reported recently that the
psychiatrist who treated the little girl said the original
report was a bit exaggerated.
"It was a very minimal intervention," Dr. Richard Graham said,
according to the Huffington Post. "Her use wasn't going to be
out of control, massively, in the immediate future, but it (the
treatment) was a
way to find a better balance."
Graham and other medical experts, say a child, like an adult,
can easily get addicted to an electronic device such as an iPad,
or almost anything else, for that matter. The key is to
carefully monitor your child's use of the tablet so it doesn't
become the equivalent of a security blanket. That means it needs
to be taken away after a period of time to ensure that your
child gets involved in other activities. In that respect, it's
not much different than television.
"It is about setting limits," a Miami doctor told the Huffington
As the parent of a two-year-old daughter, I can attest to this.
My little one has been using an iPad since she was about 20
months old and it has significantly helped her hand-eye
coordination as well as her capacity to respond to gestures and
movement. (We have downloaded games and educational apps that emphasize reacting to
different words and objects.)
However, because the iPad is a visual device that allows the
child to literally reach out and touch it, it can be a very
intimate device as well and that can lead to addiction. I've
seen my daughter try to solve a problem over and over again and
then get very frustrated when she can't reach a solution.
In those cases, either me or my wife will step in and try to
explain how she can handle the situation better. It's not always
easy -- she's a two-year-old after all -- but I've been amazed
at how much she has learned about patience and problem-solving
from using an iPad.
Still, we make sure that she doesn't overuse the tablet by
encouraging her to do other things such as playing with her toys
(and her cats), drawing, looking at picture books and horsing
around with Mommy and Daddy. Even though she loves her iPad, she
loves the attention of her parents even more and she will
usually gladly drop the device to see what we have in store for
So, Diane, the decision is yours, but I think you'll find the
iPad to be a very educational tool.