By guest poster Mary Mahon from The iMums Community
“The times they are a- changing” nowhere is this more true than in the world of children and technology. Everything has changed so much since we were young. I grew up with a black and white TV with only 3 channels, and the first personal computers were just appearing on the market during my teenage years. I still remember the excitement when we got our first color TV, and a few years later when my younger brother got a Sinclair Spectrum (the UK’s answer to the Commodore 64). Fast-forward to now and my children use the iPad with ease and just one of their apps takes up more memory than the Spectrum’s entire capacity.
So how to we deal with this brave new world? I think we need to embrace technology and all the great educational benefits it can bring our children, but at the same time keep a sense of balance and choose our children’s digital experiences carefully. There are some wonderful child-friendly educational websites but for me the most exciting innovation of recent years has been the introduction of touchscreen devices. When Apple introduced the iPad it revolutionized the industry creating a whole new class of child friendly devices. Children can intuitively work out how to use the iPad and its Android cousins and they can quickly pick up the elements of an app without any instruction or ability to read.
The iPad can contain library of books, board games, and apps to teach a whole range of subjects from math through science and history and even provide a voice for a non-verbal child. It is an amazing interactive learning device, and I think it is important help your children to translate what they learn from it into the real world. My five-year-old son decided recently that he wanted to learn play chess, he learned from app and now he is playing against his big brother with a real chess set. Digital books are a great way to instill a love of reading into a child, including interactivity that engages reluctant readers and narration that encourages beginning readers. With an app such as Reading Rainbow you have access to a whole library of books at your fingertips. Once they learn to love reading this will encompass both print and digital books.
The iPad is a wonderful tool, but here are some suggestions on using it safely:
- Screen apps before yours kids see them – watch out for coin IAPs, ads, and social media.
- Be in the room with your child when they are using it, and talk to them about what they are doing.
- Make sure you go into your device settings and enable restrictions. Switch off in app purchases and set it to require password immediately for purchases. You can also restrict installing and deleting apps and limit mature content.
- Put the iPad in airplane mode to prevent children having access to the internet.
- Enable Guided Access. In iOS 6.0 and above it is in settings under accessibility and allows you to keep your child in one app.
Technology is ever-changing and our children have access to technology we would never have believed possible when we were growing up, but if you use common sense and remember balance I think it is a change for the good.
The iMums Community was started by Mary Mahon and three other moms from different parts of the world, dedicated to educating parents about the best digital stories, educational apps, fun games and technology products available for their children.
Reading Rainbow thanks Mary Mahon for contributing this week’s guest blog post, and the iMums community for helping parents and children stay safe and informed as they use technology to further a love of reading in children so they believe that they, “can go anywhere, be anything.”