I can definitely remember many mornings spent sitting in front of the t.v. It’s flickering glow keeping me warm and shows like ‘Sesame Street’ filling my brain with the alphabet and other things a small child should learn about. My mother was running around the house gathering extra sweaters, preparing lunches and signing field trip forms. She didn’t have time to entertain or educate us every single moment so she plopped us in front of the next best thing: the television.
If I had been growing up now, you probably would’ve seen my brother and I, pyjama-clad, sitting in front of the warm glow of an iPad. I’d have to hope that there’d be re-runs of My Pet Monster and Fraggle Rock on it, or it just wouldn’t feel right.
Shows like Barney and Dora the Explorer are great learning outlets for children but can only get children involved on a small scale. Sitting around in front of the television can teach kids to be lazy, which can lead to weight and body image issues down the road.
The iPad is unique because it offers more opportunity for children to become involved with games and other learning tools. The device is also portable so parents are able to bring it along wherever they go and have the child playing an educational game or watching a movie. The device allows children to develop their minds, whereas the television holds less interactive and physical aspects.
Parents are also able to highly monitor which apps and games that their children are using, which filters out anything risque or violent. There are more options nowadays for monitoring television programs but it’s still a lot easier for a child to come across a racy show than an app not geared toward their age group.
One might think that three and five year-olds won’t understand how to use a device like an iPad but it really seems that kids are learning quickly when they give them a try. I once saw my four year-old cousin playing a computer game by herself and it blew my mind. She could turn on the computer, knew where to go and what to click. In short, she was a pro and she hadn’t even attended kindergarten yet.
Since kids are being exposed to things like the Internet, Facebook or the iPad at such an early age nowadays, that might be the reason why it seems to be natural to them to use.
A perfect example would be this boy. Cash is 5 years-old and he took an instant liking to his father’s old cracked iPhone. He was equally as intrigued when he the iPad was explained to him so his dad decided to see how well he could figure out the device on his own. He recorded Cash trying to figure everything out and realized that he had mastered the iPad in no more than five minutes.
When his dad, (Tyler Gray who is an editor for Fast Company), asked Cash how he knew what to do with the iPad, he responded with, “Because I just knew!” Kids just know nowadays. Their generation will probably be Twittering before they can crawl and Facebooking before they’re standing upright.
Here is another example of a very young child who is able to quickly figure out the iPad. Only 2.5 years-old and she moves quickly through the interface, which has been reported to be easy to navigate. Even still, at that age I probably wouldn’t have been as tech-savvy and feel as though it would’ve taken me a lot longer to get the hang of.
The iPad has countless fun and interactive apps geared toward kids. They’re all available for purchase starting at prices as low as 99 cents. There are even many apps that are available for free. Even cable for television would cost significantly more than a few apps that will potentially keep your children entertained for hours.
Top 10 apps for children using the iPad, not in any particular order:
1. 123 Color HD Talking Coloring Book for iPad – This app basically features a talking coloring book in which your child communicates with the program and “paints” the colors in by numbers/command. Color with the touch of your finger on a small screen. What will they think of next?
2. PegLight for iPad – This is a fun way to focus on your child’s attention to detail and keep them sitting still, at the same time. This app reminds me of a game that was out when I was little and coveting everything from the Consumers Distributor’s catalogue – the LiteBrite. These devices are apparently still in production but if you’re forced to chose between old school and new school, the iPad would win in most situations because it isn’t messy and there’s no hassle involved with lugging it around.
3. Scrabble for iPad – Not only is this a classic game but it’s also highly educational. Children are required to focus on spelling words and on counting tiles and spaces on the board. Again, with every app, there’s no hassle or mess involved which would probably be very appealing for most parents.
4. Wurdle – Besides it’s very obviously cool name, this app is a word game that is similar to Boggle. Wurdle has sound effects and children can play untimed so there’s no pressure to perform too quickly. This app is great for young children who are just learning to read and write and can give them tons of exposure to learning even though it’s fun!
5. PopMath Basic Math – Math is the pits, right? Well to most it is but it’s a necessary part of life because math and numbers are in everything! This app was created with that in mind so the developer tried to make it less grueling and more fun. Kids go through basic math questions but are also popping bubbles at the same time, at different speeds.
6. Kid Art – This is a great app even though it focuses less on formal teaching and more on creativity and imagination. This doodle application allows children to draw and create pictures. To move onto the next picture, simply shake the iPad to clear the screen.
7. Match Magic – This app is so simple – children match two images together, connect them with a line and then shake the device to clear the screen and start all over again.
8. Skizzle – This awesome app lets children upload their favorite pictures and then turn them into jigsaw puzzles. Instant customized puzzles – doesn’t get any better than that.
9. Topple – Topple is a simple stacking game where children stack blocks with animated faces, before their time runs out. The higher your child stacks the pile, the funnier the faces get.
10. Word Scramble – Similar to Scrabble & Boggle, this app is a fun way to learn words while trying to search for the words that are hidden deep in each puzzle.