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Does Using An iPad Hinder Kids’ Other Basic Skills?

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Approximately 50,000 students at Chicago Public Schools, including these first graders, use iPads in some of their daily lessons. (Credit: CBS)

Approximately 50,000 students at Chicago Public Schools, including these first graders, use iPads in some of their daily lessons. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – There are more than 28,000 iPads being used in Chicago Public Schools, and some of the students who use them each day are as young as three years old.

Is all that screen time good for toddlers, and their little hands? CBS 2’s Chris Martinez went to a Chicago classroom to find out.

About 50,000 kids in the Chicago Public Schools system use iPads in daily lessons.

First grade teacher Kristin Ziemke uses iPads to help teach her 33 students, but doesn’t let using iPads detract from the basics, like reading and writing.

“This is just one piece of our day, and it’s one tool that we have in the tool box,” she said.

Ziemke’s first graders can record videos, even blog, and use Twitter. She’s certain it gives them an edge.

“I think it is appropriate, in some instances, before even kindergarten,” she said.

But is this technology costing kids other critical skills?

“Learning to write with a pencil still counts,” said veteran educator Frances Judd.

She said she supports using iPads in schools, but said children as young as three are becoming better at swiping fingers over touchscreens than holding a pen or other utensils, costing their hands vital muscle memory.

Judd has been developing apps that require kids to use a pincer grip, even on a tablet computer.

“I see children swiping from the time they’re two. It’s muscle memory at this point. I also want pincer to be muscle memory,” she said.

As for how much time your child should spend using any app, that is still up for debate.

“What’s the balance between the real and the virtual, I think has to be thought about very carefully and very intentionally,” said education technology expert Chip Donohue.

Experts have said parents should be the ones to police how much time a child spends with technology like the iPad. If your little one is using it only to play games, they suggest you limit that time, but allow it if they’re using it to read or use educational apps.

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