Touchy, Touchy

I’ve been in a number of airports lately, and one of the only fun things about it is the newsstands. I love looking at all those rows of shiny magazines, especially in the bigger stands where they have all sorts of special interest magazines you’ve never really seen before (not those interests, I was thinking various sports or travel).

What caught my eye recently was The Atlantic and its cover story, “The Touch-Screen Generation.”  The little girl on the cover looks to be adorable, but she is so engrossed in the iPad screen, her entire face is obscured.  Oof.

The article is fascinating.  I was interested to learn that while I’ve always heard/thought brain wave activity while you watch TV is akin to a total zoning out, it’s actually not much different than when you are still, but totally absorbed in a book. Or that the “zombie effect” of mindlessly watching regardless of what plays isn’t truly accurate.  Experiments show that by 24 months, babies will look away from programs that don’t make sense such as characters speaking backwards or action sequences run out of order.  (This does not take account for adults that can watch marathon runs of almost any reality show.)

Yet, I’d still be hesitant to allow unrestricted amounts of screen time of either the TV or iPad, though I’m much more relaxed about it than I used to be.

When my kids were younger, I allowed TV very sparingly–maybe 30 min a couple days a week.  My kids didn’t seem overly interested in it, but it did allow me a few minutes of peace on an overly fussy day (on my part or theirs!). It would annoy me to no end though that professionals were so often hijacking this time by presenting open screen time.

Preschool often ran videos if the weather outside was bad.  The dentist had a screen for distractions; many other waiting rooms do, too. And this was ten years ago. The number of screens has multiplied shockingly since then. Phones themselves make screens constantly available.

Because of this, I limit myself to how often I use the iPad in therapy, feeling that my job is to do some of the “heavy lifting” for the parents.  Not just in terms of guiding speech and language goals, but in participating enthusiastically in another game of Candyland or playing trains, yet again, if that’s the child’s passion.  I guess I see my role as therapist and respite provider (and every parent needs some respite!)

So, where do you stand on this? 


This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Carol

    I was not necessarily a proponent of using the Ipad for therapy, however, after trying many different therapy games, etc. with my middle school artic clients, I decided to try out some work facilitated by the Ipad. Was I shocked by how much greater their response to therapy was! It seems to make therapy more lively, spontaneous, and, for them, more fun. If for some reason, I don’t bring it with me, they will go along with whatever else I’ve brought to use, but, will entreat me to bring it back!

    1. admin

      Sounds like a great plan. If you do have worksheets that must be done or simply have too good a lesson to pass up, you can take a picture of it with the iPad, load it into Glow Coloring and its a totally different experience! Kim

  2. Ann F

    I am enjoying the iPad in therapy, but it’s simply another tool. The kids like board games and drill with a clicker or tally sheet every bit as much as using the iPad. So, I vary my methods. Sometimes I am the one who teaches the kids how to play a game and by that I mean how to throw dice and move along the board. I also find there are children out there who don’t know how to play go fish. Imagine that!

    1. admin

      I’ve been surprised by kids who didn’t know what I would consider classic card or card games. Who knew Go Fish could still be novel?! Kim

  3. Sally

    I sometimes wonder if this is yet another instance of how I can “blame my mother!” She modeled reading, doing crafts and writing letters when I was little. She and my father also earned all 5 of the college degrees they have in my lifetime; modeling study habits as well. I agree that the ipad is simply another tool. I too have also seen some students communicate more with specific apps, but I have also had students that suddenly can’t stay on the task at hand when working with the ipad. I finally just came to the conclusion that I have become the “older” generation. I don’t know that I really see the extra-added value to all this technology. Is it simply making learning more, or just trying to entertain to keep the attention???

    1. admin

      Wow! You’ve got great role models there! My iPad experience has been very similar to yours–very motivating for some, others it becomes more of a challenge to keep them on task. Kim

  4. Maggie

    I love using my iPad in therapy, but I also activities that get the kids moving, involve sensory play, and are more “traditional”. I like to switch things up all the time, but I do use my iPad a decent amount in therapy. Especially when this SLP needs a minute or 5 to breathe…

    1. admin

      Great plan and balance 🙂 Kim

  5. Kristin

    Great post! I do use the iPad in therapy here and there. It jsut helps break some of the monotony for me personally spices things up a bit. I work with adults, so I use flash cards on the iPad instead of cards. I get younger adults to engage more when things are more techy. I use cognitively tough apps instead of worksheets. But I do try to avoid setting someone up with an app and walking away. Face to face and guided therapy are important.

    1. admin

      I can imagine the iPad would be invaluable in your setting and so novel to older adults!

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The views expressed in this blog are my own and are intended to inspire other speech-language pathologists in their own practice. If you are a parent, teacher or other educator, these ideas are not intended to take the place of treatment by a certified clinician. Read full disclaimer here.