Small people like everything that makes a noise, is bright and colourful and has lots of things to tap and move. Our world today is filled with technologies that apparently will do all manner of things like this to keep toddlers occupied for a period of time. Their little brains are not only ravenous for stimulation, but that they are also forming at an alarming rate, and will be attracted to anything that provides stimulation regardless of its long-lasting value.
So, how do we, the adults who care for these little people and their brains, ensure that they have access to fun technologies that will stimulate in the “right” way and not simply overload the senses and “babysit”.
Consider the mix of educational value and fun – learning should be embedded into fun activities that engage and have the child eager to participate further. Apps that encourage play and discovery along with opportunities to learn – and for parents to interact are great choices.
Apps that also include notes to assist parents or carers with ideas for not only interacting with the app itself but also for how to extend the experience into other activities in the day and include descriptors of the learning processes taking place. Ways to encourage exploration and discovery and how the app is reinforcing essential elements of development add to selection criteria for good apps.
The touch screen of a tablet or iPad is a significant change in technology access for young people – the real benefits come from choosing apps that are created with a visible understanding of cognitive development and are both engaging and focused on learning.