Why apps are a great way of opening up your pre-schoolers learning possibilities - by Talya Stone
In today’s tech-centred world, many parents are concerned about whether their pre-schoolers should be using apps or not, and how much benefit their under-5s actually derive from the screen time they are getting.
As with all things in life, a little common sense goes a long way. Instead of wrangling with guilt over screen time, and worries over reportedly detrimental effects using a tablet can have on young ones if not used in a balanced and appropriate way; why not turn our attention to some of the great benefits educational apps can offer as part of our children’s learning pathway?
They facilitate faster learning
The use of apps on tablets has recently been recognised for the potential they offer in not only supporting, but also fast tracking our children’s learning journey.
In fact, research at the Developmental Neurocognition Lab at Birkbeck, University of London, has recently pointed to the great benefits of children using tablets from a young age with a clear improvement in number recognition, and even going so far as to saying that they are better than books.
Meanwhile, a research study conducted in Auburn, Maine showed that pre-school students using tablets scored much higher on literacy tests than students that didn’t use them.
They are not the passive media you might think
Much of the studies out warn against the use of passive media where screen time is merely used as a baby sitter. Yes this many be true when they are spending too much time passively watching the TV, however the use of apps is very different because you are interacting with the device. It is precisely this sort of interactive play – whether it be on or off screen – which is crucial to brain development at this age.
Apps are a great opportunity for joint attention
Much like sitting down to read a book, a parent or caregiver and a child can sit and enjoy interacting with an app together, discussing learning points, and topics addressed by the app in question. The principal is the same, it’s just a different medium.
It prepares them for school life
With tablets, apps and games being increasingly used in the classroom, and also shown to actually improve education and attainment levels in many instances, enabling our children to be familiar with this way of learning is simply preparing them for the future ways of education.
Schools are already finding that the use of this form of media is helping them to improve engagement in writing, develop better literacy and inspire children in various fields from science to art. And so as the use of tablets and apps continue to make inroads in education, let’s help our pre-schoolers to feed into that too.
The upshot? It’s all in the mind-set. If you are merely using tablets and apps to pacify your pre-schooler, then that is one thing. But if you are using them to unlock new learning opportunities and their educational potential, that is another thing altogether; and one that in my opinion, should be fully embraced in our tech-centred world, along with all the usual offline opportunities for play and learning.
Talya is a blogger at Motherhood: The Real Deal http://www.motherhoodtherealdeal.com and freelance parenting and lifestyle writer. Connect with her on
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