By Hallie Bulkin
Many parents and therapists believe in limiting screen time on the iPad for young children. While I respect and understand that there may be reasons for this, I feel that the benefits of using the iPad in therapy far outweigh any perceived “risks” (there have not been any studies to prove use of the iPad in structured educational settings is harmful or ineffective).
So why am I so in love with the iPad in therapy?
Well for one…it gives me a break from performing and standing on my head the whole session! Ha! This is not why I use it but it does prove that the iPad serves as a powerful external reward. I have yet to meet a child who is not excited to play on the iPad when I offer it as an option in our sessions.
Second, skills generalize faster when taught on the iPad compared to non-iPad tasks. When I compare how long it takes most of the kids I work with to learn a new skill, the iPad always wins over traditional board games or non-iPad play. Recently, Dr. Tsakiris a psychologist shared that the reason that some (or many) children do so well on the iPad is because the field of attention is isolated, making it easier for the child to attend. She also shared that this is true especially for children with visual cortical challenges. This was quiet an “AHA” moment for me when she told me this!
Third, the iPad has so much to offer that it makes it easy to keep a child’s attention. There are so many free and wonderful games and applications available. If a child tires of one game or activity or gets too frustrated with another, there are always more options, which is a great tool to have in an SLP toolbelt (endless options of activities to target various goals)!
So my answer to the big question of whether or not the iPad belongs in therapy my answer is….YES, it absolutely does! What do you think?