Child advocacy groups have long eschewed "techy" things like apps for babies and DVDs that are deemed "educational" for kids. The general feelings behind their protests are that things like these are essentially anesthetizing our kids; they're not making them smarter; they're making them anti-social; and nothing beats real, human communication with children.
And while I couldn't whole-heartedly agree more with every one of these sentiments, a recent article in Slate muses that, actually, the oft-dreaded baby apps can be educational and fulfilling. It's just all about how the parents choose to use them.
There's a big difference between plopping an iPhone in front of your toddler and walking off to surf the Internet, and sitting down with your child to partake in an baby app, like you would a book. As the author of the Slate article says: "It's the 'walk away' part that no one likes." She compares baby apps to a child's toy: "Picture two mothers," she says. "One mother hands the busy box to her child and says, 'Can you find the cow? What does a cow say?' Her child looks at her, and she points to the cow picture. She presses it and smiles as she turns to look at him again. 'Moo! Can you say moo? Let’s say moo. Moo!' The other mother takes a different approach. She just hands the child the toy and walks away."
There's a big difference.
I'm against TV. I'm against kids playing with iPads and iPhones, but parents need to stop blaming people like the makers of the Baby Einstein videos for not making their kids well-rounded geniuses. The only person responsible for your baby's learning and development is you. Kids have been playing with sets of keys and plastic strainers for years. What's the difference if you leave your child to play alone with something that's not virtual? It's your role in the process that's crucial.
For the first time last week, I decided to play a game on my iPad with my toddler together. It was crappy out and we had literally exhausted every option in the book. The game had to do with identifying shapes and colors. While she's a bit young to master the art of "colors," by the time 15 minutes were up, she knew what a "star" was. She enjoyed herself immensely in the process, dancing each time music sounded from the device after she touched it. We haven't taken the iPad out since, because I don't want her to become obsessed with technology, but I can definitely foresee us playing that game again when it's raining.
Do you let your kid play with baby apps?
Image via jencu/Flickr