iPad Play for Toddlers? “Approved,” Says Doc Who Once Vetoed the Activity

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In a surprising change of heart, Seattle pediatrician, Dr. Dimitri A. Christakis, now says, iPads and other electronic devices may actually be valuable for little brains, as long as they’re used in moderation.  Christakis, who is also a researcher at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, concedes that children age two and under can benefit from 30 to 60 minutes of electronic activity, providing it’s interactive and not just passive viewing.

This is a surprising about-face, considering his direct language in the 2011 guideline he co-wrote for the American Academy of Pediatrics where he declared, “Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child’s brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens.”

In a new research study published this week in JAMA Pediatrics, Dr. Christakis, released the results of a randomized control trial that suggests interactive apps may be just as stimulating as traditional toys like See ‘N Say and building blocks.

Although this may be good news for parents who often feel guilty for giving in to those, “I want iPad” tantrums, it’s still important to research and pick age-appropriate content for your child. Before you hand the iPad over to your toddler and let him swipe away willy-nilly, choose an activity that engages, as well as entertains. And remember to set time limits.

Recommended iPad Toddler Apps from Common Sense Media

Peek-A-Zoo by Duck Duck Moose: Bright friendly animals exhibit a range of emotions and children must pick up on social clues to answer the questions, “Who is sad,” or “who is surprised.”

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PianoBall by Fun With Learning: Colorful keys. Easy to learn. 10 pre-programmed songs or unlimited free play. Instruments include piano, sax, xylophone and drums.

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Tozzle by nodeflexion.com: Like an old-school jigsaw puzzle, this app offers 44 different designs and includes a helpful “prompt” if little ones get stuck.

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Sound Touch: Over 250 pictures and sounds. Children tap pictures in categories ranging from animals, vehicles, birds, musical instruments and household items to hear the noise each object makes.

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Screenshots via iTunes