‘Babies now bond with mum and dad’s iPads’
BABIES are bonding with iPads in place of parents, as the diagnosis of childhood autism and ADHD soars.
Pioneer neurotherapist Dr Mari Swingle, author of i-Minds, yesterday warned that devices are interfering with kids’ brain development to create an “autistic world’’.
“Children are starting to attach to objects instead of caretakers,’’ the Canadian expert, who will be keynote speaker at a Nature Play Australia conference in Australia in March, told The Sunday Territorian. “They don’t want mum to soothe them when they’re upset, they want mum’s phone.
“When you give an infant a screen, it completely substitutes the parents so they start to attach to the object.”
Dr Swingle said children who depend on devices are not learning about emotional regulation from their parents, and are developing “autistic-like characteristics”.
“Children are losing the ability to read facial cues and emotions,’’ she said. “I think we’re moving towards an autistic world.
“We have the making of a different form of human … a non-emotional, non-connected species.”
Australian occupational therapist Yvonne Wink yesterday said children were suffering “separation anxiety’’ due to a lack of face time with busy and screen-distracted parents.
She said children were throwing tantrums to get parental attention.
“They’re learning that if I scream, or punch my sister or cry, mum and dad will give me attention straightaway,’’ she said.
“Children are finding it harder to sit still — they’re not even learning to sit still at a table without a device.
“They get frustrated really easily, they don’t have social problem-solving skills and looking someone in the eye is becoming rare.’’
Ms Wink said she had been working in the field for 30 years and children’s behaviour had changed markedly since the introduction of smartphones and iPads over the past decade.
Autism rates among Australian children have doubled since the introduction of ipads in 2010.
But Speech Pathology Australia spokesman Dr David Trembath said the rise in autism rates was coincidental, due to changes in diagnosis.
Devices are interfering with children’s brain development, according to a pioneering neurotherapist.