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  • Pinoy Experts List Adverse Effects When Kids Learn Alphabet Or Counting On A Gadget

    Parents need to go back to the basics of play, rather than relying on gadgets.
    by Dahl D. Bennett .
Pinoy Experts List Adverse Effects When Kids Learn Alphabet Or Counting On A Gadget
  • While gadgets will eventually complement our children’s education as they enter big school, pediatricians and educators will be the first to say that toddlers don’t need them to learn at their age.

    Developmental and behavioral pediatrician Francis Dimalanta, M.D., and educator Tina Zamora of Nest School of Child Development give their expert take on how gadgets affect learning and the developmental progress among toddlers.

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    Effects of gadgets in toddlers

    “Gadgets are a very powerful tool when you give it to a child. You might think it’s a toy, and it’s harmless, but it’s a powerful tool,” warns Zamora during the Smart Parenting Masterclass Toddler Expertips titled “Parenting in the Digital World.” During the webinar co-presented by Nido, the experts helped identify areas of a toddler’s development and the effects of gadgets when it is used too early.

    Gadgets can limit tactile learning

    Children may first learn about the alphabet, colors, and counting through a tablet or a laptop, but it’s not the same as learning through blocks and other tactile toys.


    “Children should learn using the hand, and all senses should be stimulated. They learn Math using building blocks better than seeing it on screen. Yes, they can probably memorize rotely [what they learn on screen], but they [may] not know the reason behind it,” says Dr. Dimalanta.

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    He adds that gadgets also affect the development of fine motor skills, and some may even delay or skip a milestone, like writing using a pen. “Some children first learn how to swipe before they can write. Supposedly a 2-year-old already has pencil grasp while a 3-year-old can write on a pad.”

    Dr. Dimalanta stressed that toddlers should be exposed to touching and feeling. “Two to six would learn through touching, messy play, holding a book, and using blocks.”

    Kids develop less empathy

    “The caveat is gadgets don’t cause developmental delay, but they actually make a child less responsive because they are glued to it. They are looking at the screen, something that will not react to them, so they lack empathy,” says Dr. Dimalanta.

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    Zamora also warns that the harmful effects of gadget use may not be felt immediately but long-term. “It might seem that they are smarter more intelligent [when they learn and absorb information using the gadget]. But with all the studies that we’ve read, you are going to feel [the effects] later on — less attention span, less interaction with the classmates, less empathy, and less eye contact.”

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    Using gadgets too early can affect speech and language

    It may be time for parents to intervene when their child is spending more time using the screen than interacting with the people around him. Communication is back and forth language, Dr. Dimalanta says, and the screen doesn’t provide that.

    Dr. Dimalanta elaborates there are two kinds of speech: expressive and receptive. “Expressive is being able to learn what words to say while receptive is understanding (what is being said). A lot of kids can ‘say words,’ but they don’t understand [what it means], so you’re fooled into thinking my child’s so good. This can be bridged if parents read with them and talk to them.


    “To help them [develop language skills] talk to them and not [allow them] to live in the tablet,” advises Dr. Dimalanta. It helps, he adds, that Filipino children are usually exposed to extended families like Lolo, Lola, and Ninang, giving them more opportunities for communication.

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    Screen time can interrupt holistic learning

    While many toddler learning apps can help teach children the basics of counting and reading, it does not make them a holistic learner, says Zamora. “The child may have more information pero di naman siya nakikipaglaro sa kaklase nya. Marunong nga siyang magbasa pero di naman niya ma-comprehend yung binabasa nya. So, I can teach all these (reading and counting) without a gadget. Cognitive learning is the easiest to teach because that’s just info. The hardest is the behavior with the classmates or with an adult, the interaction.”

    The experts also emphasized the need to go back to the basics of play because such an activity helps develop a child’s cognitive, motor, speech, and language skills in profound ways that a learning app in a gadget never will.


    Dr. Dimalanta stresses. “We need to bring back play, sports, reading, music, theater, and arts as alternate options to the gadget use.”

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