Can Your Preschooler Learn Anything From an iPad App?

Paul FennerLife Transitions

I purchased a new iPad for my wife back in May for her birthday and mother’s day gift.  Although it has come in handy for quick searches like most people have found it is hard to produce content.  With ultrabooks coming into vogue, I feel like I can do so much more with my new Lenovo than I could ever do with an iPad or any other tablet for that reason and it was pretty close to one another.

With all of the said, the iPad makes for great entertainment with our toddlers.  But as this Slate article tries to address, can your child learn anything from it?

  • Child development specialists say young children learn best when they are fully engaged and imbued with a feeling of control. They encourage parents to seek out more open-ended games and toys in which children could explore and create at their own pace. Yet at the moment, not many apps are built with this approach in mind. A recent Australian study showed that only 2 percent of “education” apps in the iTunes Store allow for open-ended discovery and exploration. (However, I have seen some recent products that favor creation, including DoodleCastItzaBitza, and in-development computer programming software for preschoolers called Scratch Jr.)
  • Instead, the research led me to come up with a mantra for when and how to use screen media with young kids. It’s the Three C’s: content, context, and your child. (OK, so I fudged the last C a little.) Be picky about the content of what children see on-screen, and when choosing interactive titles, seek out those that put children in control without so many dead-ends and distractions. (Common Sense Media, a nonprofit children’s advocacy organization, is making this a little easier with its just-released website that rates apps for their learning potential.) Focus on context by being aware of what is happening before, during, and after children play their games or watch their shows, taking time to talk about what they’ve seen, and play some games together. And to accomplish that last C, tune in to which games and shows really interest your kids, what piques their curiosity and helps them relate to people and things around them.