Kids love mobile devices. More specifically, tablets, such as Apple’s iPad or the Kindle by Amazon. For children, tablets offer a chance to watch shows, play games and, sometimes, speak with relatives outside of the home. Furthermore, these gadgets are attractive because they are interactive, require the use of finger movement, and are one of the few things children can control themselves. So, kids love them and parents adore them because it keeps kids occupied and quiet. Hence, it’s no surprise that 30 percent of children in the U.S. engage with some of form of mobile device while still in diapers.
Yet, as a part of our culture, some of these tools, or the constant access to them, have become problematic. As a result, professionals have called on parents to limit the time with which their children spend on devices, citing reasons from impaired vision to lack of imagination and, quite literally, addiction. Initially health communities responded by encouraging parents to cut out use altogether, or to drastically limit time by only a few hours a day. Understanding the complications such places on adults, who are themselves always attached to some tech device, organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics now suggest that parents do more monitor their child’s activity and to establish “digital-free zones.”
Their suggestions are great and most certainly will help parents guide their children through proper use of such devices. I would add that during the time children use these devices, over half should be used for educational purposes. It’s likely that a child would want to play a game, why not make sure the game is a teaching opportunity rather than a time waster? Writing for the Huffington Post, this is what Catriona Wallis had to say about this very concept:
“If playing digital games is now an integral part of our young learners lives, then it makes sense for teachers and parents to use this to motivate children to learn.”
The benefit is simple. Children will get their time to use the phone or iPad, they will be occupied and quiet, and they will also learn something in the process. In a very comprehensive list, Parents.com shares 30 educational apps/games for your child to play when she or he has access to a mobile device. In addition to books and schooling, this is a great way to reinforce the importance of learning and maximize those very integral stages of development in childhood.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Do you think these gadgets should be used for entertainment or for learning? Let me know!