Sunday 14 May 2017

Little kids and tech - are we doing it right?

Animal Cards

I can't remember where I heard this story, but it's a good one. A father wasn't sure why his big 50" TV had all these horizontal smudge marks across the bottom of the screen. That was, until one day he saw his 3-year-old walk up to the TV and try to "swipe" across the screen to change the channel from the news his dad was watching!

Our children are digital natives. They grow up knowing what apps are, and NOT knowing what a phone with a cord looks like. We need to embrace this fact rather than think of ways to prevent it from happening - it is an inevitable process that will happen regardless of what we think of it.

But do we, as parents or educators, leverage this attitude and familiarity with technology to create amazing learning opportunities for our young children?

An app that I had previously come across was free for a limited time recently and I grabbed the opportunity to download it onto my phone. Teach your Monster to Read is an app aimed at making it fun for young children to learn how to read. They are introduced to new sounds in a fun and engaging way by trying to help a monster that they get to create at the start of the game.

My son is constantly asking me if he could play "that monster game" on my phone and I am much more inclined to let him spend some time learning to read rather than flinging unhappy flying creatures across a screen.

I was doing some shopping yesterday and saw a family wandering the isles. Mother and father were working their way through the shopping list, sister was trying to find the specials, and the youngest had to try his best not to bash into everything while holding a tablet in front of his face. This is becoming an all too common feature of society - heads buried in devices. Hence my advice:

Let's give children opportunities to use devices to develop their skills rather than just becoming consumers of media - let them use it to create stuff and learn!

I wrote in a previous post about AR and VR apps for education and it can be a great way for parents and teachers to get kids excited about learning. Pick 'n Pay have recently started their South African Animal Cards again and with the app available on iOS and Android it creates an amazing learning opportunity by letting youngsters hear the sound each animal makes when clicking on the augmented reality image that appears when you scan each card.

There is so much out there for children to experiment with, but it would take a little bit of initiative from parents and teachers to evaluate and find some true gems in the wilderness of mobile apps. By getting your kids used to a device as an educational tool, it sets them up for success. 

It's time to get our young children to make the connection between education and fun!

'till next time


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