Parents are starting to embrace technology to facilitate their children’s learning. It is a fairly common sight nowadays for toddlers and young children fiddling with iPads and other tablet devices. And with a surge of apps targeted towards this market, parents need to be wary of what their kids are being exposed to every time they use mobile devices.
A recent Common Sense Media study showed that 52% of kids aged eight and below have access to a portable computing device such as a smartphone or a tablet. Network carriers offer mobile contracts that are more affordable, making a number of mobile device consumers grow by a minute. With these trends, parents have to be more responsible with regards to what their little ones spend their time with when using these gadgets.
Also, adults need to understand that their children’s learning process cannot be fully, or even majorly digital in nature. Many experts in child-rearing are in agreement that they are more likely to learn by interacting with real, tangible objects as opposed to flat shapes and colors on a computer screen. Even in the aspect of interaction itself, parents need to consider that technology, no matter how advanced it is, will never be able to recreate the true feel of interacting with a real person.
In considering what can be deemed “proper” digital content, here are some guidelines to help them make good choices:
1. Amusement factor
The value of amusement is a key element. Most of the best educational apps are usually packaged with light, child-friendly themes that make use of game mechanics to provide that amusement factor that draw their attention. Rather than getting serious apps they would likely see as purely educational, you can look for apps that can engage their attention in a fun way.
2. Intuitive assistance
Their intuitive levels are also a point of consideration. Apps need not be too precise for them to navigate, and need to allow them to progress with responses or actions that correspond to the level of effort associated with their age. Some game apps have expanded touch areas or built-in “cheats” that allow kids to progress and even “win”, enabling them to feel the sense of success and achievement.
3. Multiple participation
Media should, as much as possible, foster interaction between multiple users. In the case of games, apps of good choice are the ones that encourage and even reward cooperation between kids or even with their parents. Even interaction as simple as one person reading to another, such as adults reading to them using storybook apps, makes a very huge difference in nurturing personal interaction.
4. Restriction of access
As far as restricting access goes, guardians can classify this aspect into multiple points. This includes restriction of child exposure through media ratings, preventing unwanted purchase; safeguard from unwanted content online. In considering any form of digital media, rating bodies such as the PEGI and the ESRB are there to guide consumers, such as parents in choosing content that are appropriate for their children. Restricting children’s control of media such as apps that support micro-transaction features like in-app purchases in Apple’s iTunes Store is also important to avoid unnecessary spending. This can usually be addressed by setting levels of security such as transaction passwords that can prevent accidental purchases by kids. Finally, setting parental controls and restrictions on mobile devices in conjunction with close, constant supervision can mitigate the dangers of their online exposure. Social media such as Facebook are a hotbed of potential online risks, but even these sites says that it has no control of young children when it comes to creating accounts. It is up to parents to regulate and supervise their kids when using such forms of media.
While these guidelines serve as points of consideration for parents, they are but empty words without an open mind to understand their significance in child development. Digital media is constantly evolving, and in doing so, becomes more embedded in today’s society, down to the basic units of family and home. The impact of digital media today is as profound as it can get, and it will continue to grow. Adults have the social responsibility to properly educate their children on the benefits, as well as the risks associated with media, whatever form or shape it may take.
Responsible child-rearing with digital media is possible if parents are informed. We’d love to hear about the steps you’ve taken to educate your kids about technology. Share them with us.
About the Author
Reese Jones a tech enthusiast who loves writing about phones, new media, gigs and music and android applications. Outside of writing she loves playing tennis and she also maintains a passion for street art.
Categories: Thoughts on Education