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Wednesday
May182011

Do iPads and Smartphones Really Teach Toddlers to Read?

Tooga/The Image Bank/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An interesting trend has emerged in which app makers are marketing directly to parents who are looking to help their children as young as four months old get a head start on learning.

Type in "toddler" and "educational" into iTunes and you'll find more than 800 apps specifically marketed to children under age 3.

Toys 'R Us is now selling the iPad, and PC World named the iPad the best toy of the year for young children.  One town in Maine is even spending $200,000 on iPads for its entire incoming kindergarten class.

But do iPads or smartphones and toddler marketed apps really make young kids smarter?

Many parents like Mia Kim, a blogger and founder of a tech site for gadget lovers, are convinced of it.  Her 14-month-old son Finn has his own iPad.

"Around 9, 10 months he started really sort of getting in to it," she said.  "I think in this day and age, he does have a head start being so good at just navigating through his own iPad."

Kim has downloaded more than 75 apps for Finn and said he recognizes letters.

PBS did a study showing benefits in kids 3 to 7, but for infants and toddlers, there doesn't seem to be any thorough research into the claimed benefits of these educational apps.

Some pediatricians say handing kids an iPad is pretty much the same as letting them watch television.

"(We) recommend that children under the age of 2 don't have any screen time whatsoever," said Dr. Alanna Levine of the American Association of Pediatrics.

But Levine adds that if you interact with your toddler while playing an iPad game that may be ok for short periods of time.

While no studies prove apps make toddlers smarter, there's no clear research that shows they hurt children.  But for parents who can't imagine shelling out $500 for an infant's toy, Levine says not to worry.

"Parents are always looking for that edge to make their child the smartest but I think the most important thing you can do as a parent is interact with your child.  You don't need an iPad or a fancy tablet to make your child learn," she says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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    Do iPads and Smartphones Really Teach Toddlers to Read? - Health News - ABC News Radio
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    Do iPads and Smartphones Really Teach Toddlers to Read? - Health News - ABC News Radio

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