Computers and tablet craze could turn Manchester kids into social recluses, warns teaching union chief

Prolonged time spent on tablets and computers will hinder a child’s development and cause them to become social recluses, according to teaching union leaders.

Despite technology giving children of this generation an academic advantage the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) claim that too much time on tablets can cause serious harm in the future.

IT skills are essential these days but those children spending so much time on consoles and other computer-based toys may not develop essential skills such as communication.

Dr Mary Bousted told MM: “Parents shouldn’t use technology as a babysitter. Children need to have lots of different experiences as a child not just stare at a screen.

“I think that technology gives us a tremendous advantage in life and they give children the opportunity to understand the world.

“Tablets are so easy to carry around and are so innovative that I think the possibilities of how to use them is really exciting, especially as IT skills are essential.”

Teachers claim that tablets can be used to help progress a child’s development but only if they are used sparingly.

“We don’t want to take a step backward but children’s use of technology can hinder their education as a child can spend too long on a tablet which means they aren’t interacting with other people and playing outside which are important skills to learn at an early age,” added Dr Bousted.

“Children need a range of activities. I think that everything should be used in moderation and that parents shouldn’t use them as a babysitter.

“One of the problems of using technology too much is that children become isolated and struggle to start conversations.”

Teachers claim that parents rely too much on technology and children often are tired for school because they have been up late playing computer games.  

Richard Wright, father-of-two, from Sale, told MM: “We make sure we take away any computers at bed-time because otherwise the kids would stay up all night.

“I think you have to be really careful in how much time you let children play on gaming devices and tablets because otherwise they would become addicted and it is all they want to do.

“In our house we do let the kids play on our iPad but we monitor it pretty closely.”

The teachers union say that not enough parents keep a watchful eye on their children’s usage of tablets and games.

However some parents do manage the amount of time spent on computers and reap the benefits.

Mr Wright added: “Technology these days is amazing and some of the apps and games can really help development and learning.

“But it is when they are on them all the time they don’t learn basic conversation skills.” 

Picture courtesy of K.W. Barrett via Flickr, with thanks

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