March 18, 2011 in Education (F)
[prMac.com] London, United Kingdom - In today's world, how do we, parents, decide on what our children are allowed or not allowed to play with? As a Montessori teacher, mother of four, and app developer, here is my insight on this very delicate matter.
Who has had the following thoughts my kids:
* Spend too much time in front of screens
* Don't do enough physical activity
* Will morph into creatures with only one finger to tap on the screen or on the mouse
* Will become blind
* Will never learn to spell if they don't read more
Spending time on digital games/apps means:
* No more family time, every individual is in front of their computer/phone/tablet
* No more friend time, unless you count Facebook and msn as such
* Less imagination
But at the same time, our kids, the so called "digital natives" should live within their time, shouldn't they? Everything that is remotely high-tech seems so natural and so intuitive to them, it would be a shame not to let them use these tools that we more often than not struggle with.
I have had the opportunity to do research on this subject and I have read arguments that have changed my mind. Hopefully it will help you make yours up.
The main one is this research done a few years back in the US on 348 children enrolled in the 3rd grade (roughly 8.5 years old). The study is called "The remote, the mouse and the n2 pencil", written by Dina L. G. Borzekowski, EdD; Thomas N. Robinson, MD, MPH, and aims at identifying positive or negative links between the household media environment and academic achievement in three subjects; math, language and reading. At that time (2005), apps did not exist but I strongly believe that what is said of computer games then can be used for apps today. One of the conclusions of the study is that "children with household computer access performed significantly higher on all three subject areas than children without access". Interesting, isn't it?
It also says that there are two types of screens: those that induce a passive behavior and those that induce an active behavior. Television is part of the first group and is also frequently linked to bad eating habits. Video games, PCs and apps, on the other hand, are part of the second one.
Educational apps not only keep children alert but they also develop an array of skills: hand-eye coordination, reaction time, memory skills, manual dexterity, critical thinking... and they don't get children as wound-up as video games.
As an educator, I couldn't give any argument not to let children use educational apps. The skills mentioned above are skills we work on in the classroom. I would strongly recommend any activity done at home that would reinforce these abilities and this is one of the reasons why I decided to become an educational app developer.
But, and every good story has a "but", it's all a question of balance!
One of the things that cannot be replaced by apps is parenthood. I would even say that our role as parents is enhanced now that children have access to this whole new "environment without boundaries".
So, it is up to parents not only to make sure that their children get a balanced life: sports, traditional play-time, reading, high-tech... but to also to keep an eye on what apps they are playing with. The iPhone or iPad can keep your child occupied for a while but only if you know what they are accessing.
Worry not, there is help at hand! Here are a few guidelines to help you choose
* Read the app description and look for educational arguments as well as recommended ages
* Read two or three different reviews, there is a multitude of blogs/websites that review apps. Be careful, some sites will post the iTunes app description written by the developer. You are looking for personalized comments of reviewers or users
* There are "lite" or free versions of most apps. They will give you a sense of what the app contains
* iPhone 3GS and above, iPod 3G &4G, and iPad
* Requires iPhone OS 3.2 or later
* 46.9 MB
Pricing and Availability:
Tam & Tao in Numberland 1.4 is $3.99 USD (or equivalent amount in other currencies) and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Education category.
Les Trois Elles Interactive, based in Paris, France,was founded by three women; two Montessori teachers and a Marketing executive. Copyright (C) 2011 Les Trois Elles Interactive. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPod and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.