Unplug your iPad-addicted child

LEARN: Speech pathologist Sally Hanna Kodsy said it may take months before your child builds healthy habits towards using iPads, but keep at it. Picture: Victor J. Blue

LEARN: Speech pathologist Sally Hanna Kodsy said it may take months before your child builds healthy habits towards using iPads, but keep at it. Picture: Victor J. Blue

There are widespread fears that children’s development and behaviour is being damaged by digital culture.

Speech pathologist Sally Hanna Kodsy said there are strategies to help parents manage their children’s behaviours on digital devices.

She said after hearing a mother complain about her two-year-old son’s tantrums and aggression towards his parents and siblings, it seemed the problem boiled down to the child’s favourite toy – the iPad.

“She confessed that she worried about his behaviours, which included being bored easily, hitting his siblings, becoming easily frustrated, angry and upset,” Ms Hanna Kodsy of Your Speech Room at Blacktown and Stanhope Gardens, said.

“When she reported his speech development and ability to follow short, simple instructions were all developing fine, I decided to probe further about the iPad.”

The child spent between two to three hours per day on the electronic device and screamed and cried when the iPad was taken away from him.

“After close observation through play-techniques, it was clear the iPad was being misused, thus leading to behaviours,” Ms Hanna Kodsy said.

“Boundaries and ground rules needed to be applied around the use of the iPad. Two weeks later, we were both stunned and proud of the positive results and changes in his behaviours.”

Ms Hanna Kodsy’s six strategies to help manage iPad use with your child:

  1. Apply a time limit (and stick to it): Explain to your child that the iPad is ‘special’ and they get to play with it for a ‘special’ amount of time. Use a kitchen timer to give them an auditory cue when time is over.
  2. Provide smooth transitions: Plan a smooth and fun transition from the iPad to a game, cuddles and tickles, dancing or a song. Don’t snatch or take the iPad straight away.
  3. Give praise: Give lots of verbal praise and tangible rewards such as hi-fives.
  4. Make an iPad station: Create an area to put away the iPad at certain times including sleep and meal times. Remember to practice what you preach.
  5. Don’t use the iPad as a dummy: If you want to get rid of a negative behaviour, don’t replace it for another negative behaviour. If your child is throwing a tantrum provide calming strategies such as a sequence of self-talk; ‘it’s time for a hug’, ‘it’s time to wipe our tears’.
  6. Use the iPad (to your advantage): Use it to increase interactions and encourage taking turns and responsibility. If your child behaves well reward them with 10 minutes on the iPad.
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