Back in the old days, before powerful computers were too big to fit inside a self-contained device the size of a textbook (or less!), kids wanted toys. Regular toys, made mostly out of plastic and not having anything digital at all about them. Action figures, super soakers, RC vehicles, LEGO robots, that kind of good stuff. Oh, there was the GameBoy (and its various generations), of course, but bar that delightful exception, the land of toys used to be an analog world. Then, tablets showed up, and if your five-year old still hasn't got one, it's surely throwing a tantrum at every opportunity! We understand — for a kid, today's colorful, dynamic mobile games probably represent the pinnacle of childhood fun. Well, they are certainly cooler than Action Man figures!
One interesting question that isn't approached very often is how come kids that have barely learned to hold a spoon are able to get around Android and iOS like they invented them, while some adults are completely baffled by the operating systems' intuitive, user-friendly interfaces. Coming up with a solid answer to that would be rather complicated, but nevertheless, the fact remains that children as young as 2 years old are using tablets.
A study led by pediatrics researcher Deirdre Murray at the College Cork University in Ireland has concluded that by age 2, many kids can unlock and navigate touchscreens with ease. As the regular use of smartphones and tablets has become widespread, children as young as 1 have access to mobile computers, and their parents are using the opportunity to educate and entertain their beloved offspring with apps and games made specifically for toddlers or youngsters.
apps and games could foster communication skills in children with developmental disorders
Addressing the study, Dr. Larry Rosen of California State University D. Hills suggested the potential benefits of smartphone and tablet usage among children. As touchscreens have proven so accessible to toddlers, mobile devices might be helpful in assessing or aiding their development. Likewise, apps and games could help foster communication skills in non-verbal children or kids with certain cognitive (or developmental) disorders.
But it's not just the youngsters who can benefit from smartphone and tablet ownership. Parenting is tough business, so being able to make a 2-year old ball of energy and joy sit down and concentrate its attention on whatever's happening on the touchscreen could provide a welcome moment of relief to many adults. However, Dr. Rosen insists that parents who let children use mobile devices must make sure that screen time is dosed in moderation and shouldn't take away from social activities. He also recommends that the apps they use are educational, involve parental play time, are not used for more than 30 minutes at a time.
Are your children spending their leisure time with a tablet? What model is it, and how is it going for you and them?