Admission: "My name is Christie and I let my children use technology"!
As a parent I worry about the amount of 'screen time' my children have. But as a teacher I know that technology is an integral part of the learning process in today's classroom and society. Our children are surrounded by screens and technology, from the humble television, to smart phones and tablets. As parents we use it as a form of communication (Hi hun, yes the kids are still alive), entertainment (a bit of Sean Hayes lip syncing and dancing always brightens my day) and to gather information (how to get sudo-cream out of carpet) - so why shouldn't we encourage our children to use these devices in the same way - with an emphasis on MODERATION!
When our eldest son started showing interest in our iPhones, I started researching some appropriate apps for toddlers and preschoolers Before you check out which apps I think you must have on your devices, read this article that was written by the Head of Digital Education at ABC Splash about why you should be encouraging and engaging your children in educational technology.
Five tips to engage children in educational technology
By Annabel Astbury, Head of Digital Education at ABC Splash
As recent data from statistics portal Statista shows, educational apps are the third most popular download category in the Apple App store, with a share of 9.95 per cent as of March 2015. With that in mind, it’s clear that the resources used to educate the next generation are shifting into the digital realm. So how do we adapt to this and ensure our children are getting the most out of these tools?
It’s us, not them
It’s important to note that children today are the first age cohorts who have never known the world pre-internet. In fact, the shift to digital technology is more of an adaption for us than for them. So the first thing we need to do, as parents, is reframe our mindsets and stop trying to engage kids in the way we were taught.
Allot ‘Tablet Time’
Allowing children time with their tablet is often seen as an incentive or treat. Why not take advantage of this by filling the device with educational games that they will enjoy, and bargaining that they play these first before they get free reign (to an extent) over their choice of content?
Whether you’re off on a road trip and need in-car entertainment, or you’re bringing your children along on a boring adult chore and need something to distract them – pack your tablet with these games and you won’t feel so bad when you have to leave them to their tech treat. After all, the aim of these educational games is to embed learning skills disguised as a fun interactive experience.
Get your child’s competitive juices flowing with a dose of healthy in-family competition. Children love to feel they’ve outsmarted their elders (and each other), so get some educational games on the go and take it in turns to play and score each other’s effort. This also provides a great way to get involved with your child’s learning and development in a fun context.
As much as children love to compete with others, they also love to compete with themselves. A good way to encourage their use of these educational games is to chart their progress and scores so they can see their gradual improvement. Why not create some achievement charts that they can update and mark off when they reach new levels and scores?
About ABC Splash!
Launched in March 2013, Splash is a ground-breaking free education website which helps students, teachers and parents embrace online and digital learning. It was developed by ABC Digital Network in conjunction with Education Services Australia, supported by the Department of Communications and the Department of Education. It is one of the largest digital projects ever undertaken by the ABC and delivers world-class interactive educational resources for primary and secondary school students, their teachers and parents. Visit the website for more details: http://splash.abc.net.au/home#!/home
Children aged between two and three were more likely to respond to screens that prompted action, such as touching, then to a screen that demanded no interaction, research from the University Wisconsin found. The more interactive the screen, the more real it was, and the more familiar it felt from a two-year-old's perspective.
Heather Kirkorian, Assistant Professor in Human Development and Family Studies, carried out the research and says touch screens could hold educational potential for toddlers.When she did another test on word learning, the results were repeated. "Kids who are interacting with the screen get better much faster, make fewer mistakes and learn faster - "But we're not turning them into geniuses, just helping them get a little more information."
As a teacher of children with Special Needs, specifically Autism, I have seen the many benefits that using educational technology can bring. Children who have limited or no communication skills find a voice through the use of technology. Children who once found it hard to socialise suddenly create friendships by playing games on technological devices together. I've even had children demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of topics being explored in class where previously they had difficulty expressing it.
So don't view devices such as iPads, iPhones and tablets as a means of distraction - if you complement them with educational and age appropriate apps they can be a great learning tool that can aid in a child's development