[Our comment: We contacted one of the researchers responsible for the Tablet Project following publication of an article in The Times : "Give Babies iPads as Soon as They Are Born". She shared the Birbeck Web story with us: "A research project launched by Birkbeck’s Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development - the Babylab - will be the first scientific study to investigate how infants aged from 6 months to three years are using touchscreen devices. The study aims to show how this use – or lack of use – is influencing their cognitive, brain and social development." We have no idea whether babies will be made to use iPads for this study. The researcher states in her reply to the Times journalist: "Neither I nor Dr. Tim Smith said that in our research we were going to 'give half the subjects iPads from birth' and the other half not."]
The TABLET project: A scientific study of the early use of touchscreen devices
Welcome to the TABLET Project!
How does the use of touchscreen devices affect our little ones?
This is a question that has probably crossed the mind of many recent parents given the sudden increase in touchscreen devices in our lives and the enthusiasm most children show for using them. According to a recent survey, family ownership of touchscreens has increased from 7% in 2011 to 71% in 2014 (OfCom, 2014). This is a huge change in a child's early media environment and as Developmental Scientists it made us wonder how early exposure to such devices might influence the way our children are developing. Currently there is very little scientific research investigating this topic. We hope that you will be able to help us fill this gap!
The Leverhulme Trust-funded TABLET (Toddler Attentional Behaviours and LEarning with Touchscreens) project* will be the first scientific study to investigate how 6 month to 3 year old infants are using touchscreen devices and how this use (or lack of use) is influencing their cognitive, brain and social development. The project will take place both on-line, via short questionnaires and at the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development (otherwise known as the ‘Babylab’ !) at Birkbeck, University of London, a pioneering research centre that uses cutting-edge neuroscientific methods to investigate infant development.
Would you like to help us with our study? Families around the world are able to participate via a series of on-line questionnaires. For those living around London, we will also run a follow-on study at the BabyLab that will provide us with a detailed insight into your child's cognitive and brain development. The eventual aim of the TABLET project is to provide an evidence base for parents, policy makers and scientists to better understand the relationship between how the current generation is developing in their media environment and inform future guidelines for what may constitute appropriate use of touchscreen devices.
We can't wait to tell you more about our findings. But for this, we need your help!
*The TABLET project has received ethical approval from the Birkbeck, Psychological Sciences
ethics committee (Ref 141570).