Marsh said her 6-year-old daughter loves to take video of herself and her friends doing goofy things.
Shes always asking, Did you get that on video?
According to the AAP, children are now spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices.
Common Sense Media, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that advocates for child and family issues, studied the effects media and technology have on young users. It found 52 percent of children 8 and under have access to a smartphone, video iPod or tablet.
About 38 percent of children have used one of these devices, including 10 percent of children ages 1 year and younger, 39 percent of 2- to 4-year-olds and more than 50 percent of 5- to 8-year-olds.
But hard research on the long-term effects are still unclear, mostly because devices such as iPads are only a few years old.
The jury is still out, said Sarah Vaala, a post-doctoral fellow studying communications at the University of Pennsylvania.
A child knows when it pushes the screen it will light up. And when a child sees their parents using the device, it becomes important to them.
– Sarah Vaala, University of Pennsylvania post-doctoral fellow
She said the pace of technological growth is pushing researchers to conduct studies faster so their work can inform design.
What makes tablets different from other studies is the interactive component, Vaala added.
Many researchers find the ability of devices to respond to the child is what makes them so interesting for young children. Babies are also hard-wired to learn from their parents.
A child knows when it pushes the screen it will light up, noted Vaala. And when a child sees their parents using the device, it becomes important to them.
Researchers with the AAP say parents should become more aware of their childs media diet. The organization suggests the creation of screen-free zones at home, something Marsh supports. Her children do not have televisions, computers or video games in their bedrooms.
Every night at bedtime, we put everything on the charging mat in the media room, Marsh said. Their bedroom is for sleeping.
Ellen Malven, a doctoral candidate in Childhood Studies at Rutgers-Camden, said parents sometimes deny their children access to new technology because they themselves lack an emotional interaction with the device.
For them, growing up was going out riding bikes or playing imagination tea party with stuffed animals, explained Malven, who has conducted research on the effects of iPads on children and preteens.
They lack that connection with the device.
But parents like Heather Sponseller of Marlton embrace the technology, citing an educational benefit.
I feel like schools are going more and more toward electronic books, so it is important to have that basic knowledge, said Sponseller.
Apple has helped create thousands of educational opportunities for the iPad, iPod and iPhone. Sponseller said there are countless puzzles and vocabulary apps with which her children interact.
Moorestown Childrens School owner Sue Maloney said Apple devices help children learn new language, math and literacy skills.
We use them in conjunction with teaching opportunities; there is no gaming or television, added Maloney, who said kids also can use the devices as a reference tool.
If they dont know the answer to something, instead of the teacher telling them, they can look it up.
But researchers from the AAP argue if screen time is not monitored, a child can become isolated from the world around him or her. Malven warned parents not to let the devices become digital pacifiers.
Its not different from TV — the device is just portable, she insisted.
Sponseller believes in limiting her childrens time on electronic devices, but sees no problem with using them as entertainment.
Sometimes you just need a break.