Wednesday, September 11, 2013

New and creative ways to use touch screens with kids

Since reading an article about the "touch screen generation" nearly a month ago, I've been allowing my two older kids more time on the iPad. I'm not worrying about whether they're using learning apps or if they're just coloring. Here's the article on The Atlantic if you haven't seen it:

The Touch-Screen GenerationYoung children—even toddlers—are spending more and more time with digital technology. What will it mean for their development?
Just because I've been letting them play on the iPad more doesn't mean I'm not watching them. In fact, I've been watching them more closely. I'm mainly curious to see what they end up doing. My 5 year old tends to doodle a lot, play a bunch of Toca Boca games, and watch some PBS Kids shows. However, she often pulls up educational apps on her own. My 2 y year old tends to cycle between apps at warp speed, but he recently found the PBS Kids app and basically watches the same videos on the iPad that he gets to watch on the TV. But watching them on the iPad is special since he gets to choose the app and the video. All-in-all, it's pretty interesting to see what they choose to do on there. Some of it (coloring & watching shows) are things they do away from the iPad in almost exactly the same way. Some  of it (like math and spelling) are similar but rather different). Some of it (like the Toca Boca games) are completely different. Typically, every thing they do on the iPad involves quite a bit of interactivity even if they're just selecting short videos to watch.

Now things get interesting when app makers start throwing things out there which pull in multiple aspects from things they know, and then throw in some unique interactivity. Here's a great example of what Disney is planning for screenings of The Little Mermaid:
Disney Wants You To Bring Your iPad To The Little Mermaid Screenings
Let me first state that I'm not yet sure if I'll take my daughter to such a screening, but this really intrigues me. This is the kid/Disney-enthusiast's version of the perfect "second screen app" As it is, my daughter loves singing and dancing so she'd really love this. In fact, this would increase her level of activity and thinking as compared to just watching a movie for 90 mins. The biggest problem with this is the idea of not simply sitting back and immersing oneself in a film. Isn't that the idea of going to a sit back, relax, and enjoy a wonderful immersive story?

It's an interesting trade-off...give up on some of the complete immersion in the story to get a level of interaction with the movie and the audience.

So for parents out there, what would you do in these situations? Does this Disney app intrigue you? Does the idea of more screen time, in general, seem useful? I'd love to hear from you all!

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