iPads and pre-schoolers – confessions of a perplexed parent

Child using iPad.

Ryan has fun at preschool using the iPad; photo courtesy Above and Beyond Education.

OK I admit it – my nearly-three-year-old daughter is more familiar with iPads than I am. It’s not hard – I think I have only just fully realised I am raising a “screen-ager”. Once they started appearing at her preschool, I should have realised that if I didn’t catch up soon, I was going to be left behind; and possibly speaking an entirely different language according to the latest scrabble dictionary!

The infamous Douglas Adams came up with a set of rules that describes our reactions to technology;

  1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
  2. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
  3. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things. 

So perhaps I should not be surprised that my daughter asked for a ‘pink ‘puter’ for her third birthday. Although I was still a little taken aback when I spotted one in a local café being used by a similarly-sized girl. She was colouring while mum drank coffee. Not a lidless felt-tip in sight.

Children using laptop; S Mankelow

Josie and William Webb of Christchurch both learned their ABCs thanks to programmes like 'Letterland'.

I must admit, iPads are particularly well-suited to the preschool market. They are small and compact – much like many pre-schoolers. They have no power cords to trip on, chew on or get caught on. You can carry them and plonk them down anywhere you (or the child) likes. They are instantly on – which cuts down on whinge-time. They are intuitive to use – kids touch everything and these things are made to be touched! No keys to bash and get stuck up with nutella.

And according to i-TUNES, over 20,000 educational Apps (May 2011). But of course, like with all media, not all Apps are created equal. It’s easy to get excited about the possibilities, without first checking if the experiences you are buying into are quality ones.

Luckily there are plenty of websites and blogs to help; this is just a few:

www.teacherswithapps.com– Founded by two teachers this site reviews educational apps, under the premise that they are the tools of the future, if used responsibly.

www.adesontheweb.com – This site posts reviews of apps being used by Apple Distinguished Educators; searchable by name or grade level.

www.momswithapps.com – Moms with Apps is a collaborative group of family-friendly developers seeking to promote quality apps for kids and families.

ictece.blogspot.com – This NZ blog focuses on issues relating to children and teachers using Information and Communication Technology in education.

blog.core-ed.org/  – CORE Education is a NZ non-profit organisation devoted to education.

And of course, if iPads are useful in formal education, what is their potential role in informal learning situations such as museums and visitor centres? Our July newsletter highlights Tauranga Art Gallery’s first go at incorporating iPads into the Lynley Dodd exhibition.  On pedestals child-high; yeah they had a clear idea of their target audience.

New Plymouth Museum Puke Ariki launched an iPad-based visitor experience in August last year, claiming to be the first in New Zealand to deploy iPads for public use in a museum. Their story can be found at www.nzmuseums.co.nz/

And a partnership between DOC and University of Otago’s Centre of Design will see a trial of iPads use in the Arthur’s Pass Visitor Centre launched during Conservation Week this September. See the story in our newsletter or find out more on the DOC website http://www.doc.govt.nz.

Imagine visitors wandering around your art gallery, centre, museum or park with an interactive App that encourages them to look at details and discover connections to their own lives. It’s getting closer every day.

Foodprinter; Latitude Research.

Latitude Research had children draw the future of technology as they saw it.

According to a study by Latitudeº Research, “Children’s Future Requests for Computers & the Internet,” kids ages 12 and under are predicting that the future of media and technology lies in better integrating digital experiences with real-world places and activities.

Sounds like a mandate for interpretation to me! It’s a brave new world out there – and according to my daughter, it should come in hot pink.

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110 thoughts on “iPads and pre-schoolers – confessions of a perplexed parent

  1. This discussion is fascinating to me, because there seem to be two camps here. Those who believe we should reach kids through technology, and those who believe in getting kids away from the computer and interacting with “real” things. The May/June 2011 issue of Legacy (the US National Association for Interpretation’s magazine) is all about interpreting for and with children. In only one article is the use of technology mentioned. All the rest are about getting kids outdoors and giving them hand-on experiences with nature. I’d love to hear where other folks stand on this issue. Do we meet today’s kids where they are (Facebook?) or do we entice them away from technology into the “real world”?

    • I’m not a parent yet, but this is an issue that my husband and I will definitely face. I’m a little torn. I wouldn’t want my kids being “behind the times” so to speak. However, I really don’t like the idea of them spending so much time on an electronic device when they should be using Crayola products to make a mess, rearranging the furniture into a fort, or running around outside with a big dog. It seems to me that technology definitely has a place–but it can’t replace the value of real-world experiences and interactions. On another note, I once read a story about a child who broke her mother’s iPhone in a fit. After that I’ve become especially wary of letting young kids handle such expensive items.

      • I don’t have an i-phone or an i-pod, or an i-pad.
        I know.

        I think kids, encouraged and developed to do this from infancy, will go outside and play willingly, and read and draw willingly–but will also use technology.
        Oh, I don’t know! Why am I trying to be smart, anyway?

      • Jessie, there definately has to be a “happy medium” where kids are well rounded and love to play outside, but are moving with the technological advancements.

    • I’m a seventh grade English teacher and I think the answer is a combination of technology and hands on. I make an effort to engage my students. That means that I meet their needs. (I consider their learning style, personal interests, and background knowledge before I design a lesson.) What I think doesn’t work is old school, rote memorization. Kids need things that are higher level. If I can accomplish that with technology, then I will!*

    • I don’t hate technology, in fact, I have loved it since I created my first website at age 13. However, I did have a “normal” childhood where we went camping and helped mom cut wood/garden and she couldn’t get us to come inside most nights! I have also been a bookworm but I have read indoors and outdoors and they are extremely different experiences! I will limit the technology and media my child is exposed to if I ever have one simply because we don’t know what this kind of brain “rewiring” will mean for the future. I don’t buy Apple products
      because they track you and your interests. So does Google and probably every other new technology out there. It is so easy for someone to stalk or hurt you when you hand them the proper tools like an app that checks you in wherever you go… I’m sorry for kids today because most of them are forced to learn on the computer (back in the day it was mostly a fun experience) now there are schools that filter “problem” kids into a fast track highly technological classroom where they are given little instruction and computers do all the teaching. Excuse me, I will home school my child rather than let that happen. School and childhood are for socialization and guided instruction… heck, watching a plant grow is more educational than half the crap on an i pad/phone/mac/whatever and I feel an over-reliance on technology makes people lazy and usually very boring… Sorry to get long-winded but last night I saw so many people playing on smart phones and talking apps ignoring the hundreds of people around them at the premiere of the new Harry Potter film. What was I doing? READING the book! I think you lose something when you don’t balance technology with past ways of learning. What happens when all your devices turn off and you’ve shut down all the old school libraries that contain actual books? Sounds like a good sci-fi novel to me 🙂 Good article and comment though, hope more people at least get in on the conversation!

      • I am a gadget person myself…but somethings well, I love the good old-fashioned way! A book any day. I squirmed when I heard oh Harry Potter -never read the book saw all the movies. Fab! I also know quite a number of them who earn Kindle – and they prefer reading on that or the iPad than a book. Don’t think I can ever give up on an actual book!. I have a son who like any other kid loves the computer, his iTouch( gift from his father) and takes to technology well…but I hope I have inculcated the value of books, conversations with real people, running around & getting dirty while playing and all that…

      • Interesting article….Really liked your comment – “blastedgoat”!! I agree with your comments about the tech world and also feel that people are starting to really have problems socialising face to face and always texting on their phones etc It is like we can’t live in the moment of what we are doing or who we are talking to, we have to constantly check an app or message someone about something….I am a mother of a 21 month old and I strongly believe in natural play, the outdoors, imaginary games, exploring the environment and all that is expression of ones’ imagination and natural problem solving!! We attend a Steiner playgroup and it is great! My daughter and I do not watch tv. And the research I have done regarding tv concludes that children under two shouldn’t be watching any tv and that it has negative behaviour effects such as poor concentration and even ADHD…I have seen mother’s at cafes with their toddlers on their Iphones playing games…each to their own…However, I would much prefer my child to be colouring in or doing dot to dots ..We don’t know how introducing technology at such a young age will affect our children…I hope WOW is nothing to go by…..I feel technology has a time and a place, and the ages of 0 – 6 are such important times for our children – technology can wait, let them get muddy making mud pies and painting and running in the bush. Let them enjoy the good times, as how many of us have to sit behind a computer for 7 hours a day and long to be outside or playing the games we did as kids? 8;)

    • I’m only 17, but my personal opinion on technology is exactly that; that it shouldn’t be used regularly or seen as a “necessary want” until around 12. For me it is just too young to get caught up in it and losing the creative imaginations given to children. I’ve seen it as I grow up with three younger sisters and find it sad. However, it is simply an opinion and I found this very interesting 🙂

    • My kids are 6, 4, and 2. They all have iPod touches. They know how to get around my iPad. But they don’t have access to these things 24/7. We limit it. We also spend time doing outside/real world things. We hike and have “bonfires” with smores in our backyard. We watch birds from our kitchen window. We collect fireflies in jars.

      I think like anything, balance is key. An example of this is an app we have called shape builder, that is like a virtual puzzle. But they have real puzzles too that they have access to and put together. Balance.

      We don’t do it perfectly (I mean, what parent does?), but we live in a world where technology is part of the world. And technology can allow for an enhanced real-world experience.

      Just a few thoughts from a mom raising kids in the technological age . . .

    • As a parent of two (for 4.5 years) and a middle/high school teacher (10 years) I think that both are important. Tech is where we are going, nature is where we’ve been. We’ve got to have both to make sense of it all. The great burden rests primarily at home. How parents interact with both is the inculcation that will be most persistent in a persons life.
      Thanks for the post and comment question!

    • As with all of the important debates, we have to remind ourselves that it doesn’t have to be one or the other…all or nothing…black or white. The answer is somewhere in the middle. We’ve had some amazing results this year getting our kindergarteners computer access every week, working on math and reading at their level, meeting them where they are, without judgement or impatience, and ready to repeat over and over and over. There is just not enough one on one teacher time to go around to everyone, unfortunately.
      This TEDTalk by an education reseacher blew me away.

      Its a must see for everyone thinking about this dilemma.
      In addition, NASA and Jet Propulsion Lab began looking at potential engineering candidates’ “play history’. This blog gives a good summary.

      http://kickingsand.com/2011/06/hands-on-play-crucial-to-problem-solving/

      Fascinating stuff!

    • There should be balance. Though I believe for most part, referring to toddlers, real interaction must still be given emphasis. My daughter learned how to use the IPhone (and because we do not have and refuse to have IPad) and she got stuck into it. Every time she gets into it, you won’t be able to take her out of it without her getting into tantrums. It can be addictive and for toddlers, it is not good. The good side of it is, I’m impressed how she can get into it and enjoy it by mere touchof the hand- she knows where to find what. And we’ve discovered that truly there are a lot of educational stuff she can do on it.

    • I think children should play as what they like.
      When I was a child, I like to go out to play with sand and water.
      At that time,we have no i-pad, i-pod or i-phone,but we have many playmates. But now,our children have more electronics instead of playmates.

  2. Great resources in a fun post — thank you for sharing this.

    I’m still amazed at how quickly my children adapted to my iPhone. It was almost Darwinian, with them proving the reason for their survival by showing they are indeed the fittest! Crazy kids…

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed, by the way!

    🙂

  3. I’m loving the term “screen-ager”, my nephew is 2 and a half and knows his way around my htc phone, and has been using i-touch technology since he was 1, I’m absolutely amazed by it!

  4. I am not a parent, but I believe that there should be a balance. It isn’t easy, and I don’t expect it to be. After having attended the Book Summit 2011 in Toronto, I learned that people who begin reading at an earlier age, and stick with it end up being more capable of social situations. If an e-reader, or the Ipad allows kids to read, which they do, I think that’s a great tool. I had games on the computer that were educational and interactive, but i was also involved in sports and hands-on activities. I think as long as a foot is planted in both worlds it can only open more horizons for your kids. Then again I was young when all this new technology came out, and I too am still learning, but it’s always been part of my life. So maybe i’m biased? Who knows. Wonderful BLOG!!

  5. You need to make sure that Technology doesn’t give you a pink slip and become your childs parent. Resist using the computer to babysit the kids also. Good luck!

  6. While I do think that education through technology can have it’s benefits, I don’t think it’s a good idea to allow them to get swept up in it. I see kids now who have no social skills whatsoever, because all they do is watch TV and play on the computer all the time. They don’t travel. They don’t experience new things. My 19-year-old brother is just now getting out in the world and experiencing things, after spending most of his life behind the screen of video games. Do we really want our children to grow up being taught only on how to interact with computers, and not with the real people and environment around them?

  7. Our weasels have limits on their screen time, which take sin computers, Nintendo Ds and TV. It can be tough to enforce, but they’ve grown up knowing that playing outside is necessary and can be great fun. They’re not lost for things to do in a power cut. On the other hand, they all know how to work the computer, can find the websites they need, can stay in touch with friends in other countries and operate the kind of personal technology that is fast becoming standard for kids.
    I hadn’t considered the child-friendly nature of the iPad, but now you mention it, it’s obvious. That doesn’t mean the weasels will get one anytime soon, though…..

  8. I think the problem is that the discussion is hindered by the black and white nature of arguments. Technology is a tool, nothing more; there is nothing good or bad about it. It’s like a hammer applied to using nails or washing dishes; there is a time and place for everything. The problems are not with the device; it is will the application.

    The problems we see are the same problems we have seen with TV for at least my entire life. TV, again, is something that is neither good nor bad. But when TV becomes a replacement for something that it is not designed to replace – human interaction, parenting, physical activity and play, etc. – then its application is a problem. Like anything else, it should be used to enhance those things that aren’t broken and fix those things that are, not replace. There is nothing that can replace the physical feeling of hitting a ball with a bat, but there is also no way an elementary student can have an in-person conversation with a student on another continent. And with technology, information is much more accessible than with libraries full of books, but you can’t replace the smell and feel of a book that is aged. Everything is application.

    That’s the iPads (and computers). The Facebook issue is something else. Every generation has something that equals our Facebook with a dichotomy between the older generation being hesitant to accept something new and behind the curve when they do and the children who grow up with it. The problem is that the children will always be there, no matter how much we fight it. With social networking, though, we are given something unique to connect with them. The generational divide in natural social interactions can disappear in this realm. And unlike video games for my generation, or music in previous generations, our tastes to not need to align to interact on a common plane anymore. Again, this becomes application, not good or bad inherently.

    Like the great Presbyterian guide to morality, “Everything in Moderation.”

  9. Students -and all of us in my opinion- should be able to use or understand -at least- the tools available. iPads -and all the rest- are part of their lives, and using them for learning is a use as good as any. The good or bad use of a tool depends on the user.

  10. I am a University Student who is lookiing for a netbook for this fall. I found one in bubblegum pink and right now it’s my first choice. My second choice is a HP with ‘plaid’ gray on dove grey stripes that I could pass down to my nephew who is nine once I am done with it. He is a Pokemon player and is allowed to use his parents PC but his “DS is the only personal computer he has. What I wonder about is this: Does it wires the childs brain in a non natural way and I may be over-reacting to some of the information that is out there. Some of that info is ‘conspiracy’ oriented!

  11. See, this is a nice topic to talk about–kids and technology. I think it’s INCREDIBLE how much things like iPads and computer programs are helping kids learn in a fun, exciting, bright way. It makes it so much more accessible to them. But, there should be a limit to it. Yes, they should use those resources, but they should still remain children, you know? I see 10 year olds walking around in Abercrombie with their noses buried in their phones and it’s just…sad. Technology should become a fun part of a child’s life, but not overrun it. 🙂 It’s a great resource!

    My Mom is a community college English professor and has seen the benefits of technology in a classroom and has thus highly encouraged my sister and I to be techies. Lucky for her, we’re big fans of technology, so it’s not a problem for our family.

    And your daughter knows what’s going on–hot pink for the future! 🙂

  12. We do both at our house. For instance, we go on bug hunts with butterfly nets and the butterflies of Wisconsin App on the iPad. We have days when we run through the sprinkler and make giant bubbles and low-tech hobby horses from yard sticks and construction paper. At the same time, about 1/3 of the apps on my iPad are kid apps, some educational, some just for fun. One of her favorites is “cookie doodle”. If our children are going to function in the world they need to not be afraid of technology; they also need to know how to turn it off and do without it. If we want our children to integrate technology into their lives in a meaningful way, we need to help them do it and provide guidance. Parents need to be involved and be leaders.

  13. In my opinion, no one under the age of 15 needs to have – or even should have – an iPad. iPods and computers are different, but iPads, however innovative and beautiful they may be, are purely luxury items. And for preschoolers? I’m young myself but that’s absolutely unheard of. They’re kids. Give them a book, a toy, a board game, or even a camera!

    Great post, really enjoyed reading it. Congrats on FP!

  14. ……or, do we realize that technology is a part of the “real world” and stop separating the two? I have a 10-month-old who already knows how to use a handful of apps on my iPhone. Through Peekaboo Barn he knows how to open a barn door and then repeat the animal sound. He can make music with Baby Piano and recognizes the tunes when we sing them. He can make a noise into the phone and have Talking Tom repeat it back to him.

    My baby also loves to swim, play at the beach, go for walks, wiggle his toes in the grass, and do other “outdoorsy” stuff in nature. I think this is a well-rounded, healthy blend that will get him ready for his future.

  15. I love your topics in this blog! I too have three children engrosssed in technology. Their favorite is my iPhone. We read books on the iPhone at bedtime many nights and at the same time get to “play” with the pages while moving them around and having them make sounds by sliding an image here or there. I am also a Kindergarten teacher and I always look for ways to include technology into every lesson in my classroom. The days are way behind us where the teacher stands or sits for more than ten minutes and “teaches.” Each day, I teach with the interactive white board and teach science using http://www.brainpopjr.com. I have also created my own blog with is brand new. Please come visit. I am still learning how to “blog” as I catch up with technology!

  16. haha i know. kids these days are very technologically-savvy. I mean i’m still just 26 but i already feel that things are no longer in their natural order. well it’s also probably because i grew up in a 3rd world country before moving up here so i’m really surprised to see a lot of kids here carrying around ipads while where i came from, even adults could only dream of having one. now we got kids here carrying bags with their ipads, ds, psp, cellphones, and pretty much all the fancy stuff. i don’t even own or ever thought about having an ipad but to these kids it seems like it’s been a necessity that they can’t live without. i’m not against technology but i guess part of me is just envious that these kids i see have been exposed to much more than i was exposed to back when i was at their age.

  17. I think we need to do both. Kids cannot be afraid of technology, unless some world apocalypse happens they will be dealing with the rest of their lives. However at the same time, kids need be active and not just absorbing other people’s creativity. They need to use their own brains, get exercise and be tactile with the real world. So I am rarely a fence sitter, but in this case I guess I kind of am.

  18. There’s no reason technology and “the real world” can’t be integrated; those who insist on their being separate entities are being short-sighted. Just as museum apps help a visitor around the exhibits, or “The Elements” app teaches iPad users about materials and their relationships, so technology can enhance learning in most areas. The best thing about the iPads is, being fully portable, they can be taken out into the “real world,” and aid teaching even as children interact with those real-world elements… both camps become one.

  19. My kids are beyond pre-school but have special needs. We love the iPad, iTouch and iPodnano. What a help for families that have kids like mine. Great post. I will use the information in the post. As for getting outside (above comment) and off technology that’s a parent’s job to find a balance:) susan

  20. I appreciate the links to help assess the educational aps out there today. But I really, really love DA’s take on how we react to technology–his three-part review makes so much sense! Effective use of technology can really change how one interacts with the world–wondrous and scary at the same time.

    Congrats on being FPed.

  21. Just like with anything in life, we have to have a balance between how much we rely on technology and how much we rely on human and world interaction. You can’t settle for one extreme or the other. Realistically, a child needs to be subjected to the technological realm in order to function successfully when they enter the professional world. However, in order to survive socially a child needs to experience the world face to face by interacting with other people, building communicative skills, knowing how our society and our environment work. Essentially, they need to have the resources to learn our tools indoors while having the ability to be explorative and interactive outdoors.

    Thank you for your intriguing post!

    Also, if possible, I would greatly appreciate it if I could share my blog on this comment. It’s a brand new blog I just started entitled “Logic Meets Reason” (www.logicmeetsreason.wordpress.com). I invite you and any other readers to check it out, send a comment, and subscribe!

  22. Loved this article!

    Very relevant for the times. I was participating in a debate just this week spurred by a Indiana school removing cursive writing from the curriculum.

    I (of course) am on the side of teaching typing over loopy-cursive scripts.

    Your article really punctuated for me that the technology gaps between trendy new tools like ipads and today’s toddlers are now non-existent.

    I also agree – hot pink! 🙂

  23. Interesting. I worry about the amount of time my children spend using technology, but I am glad they are developing “current skills” and grateful that they won’t be too bored during extended car rides.

  24. Im not a parent but I find this interesting. My 4 year old cousin knows how to use an iphone 4 better than i can and I’m in college. I remember when I was in 3rd grade and they let us use these huge green laptops to record what we did on the weekend. And I thought that was cool… I wish my SDSU provided our classes with Ipads.

    -Bianca at http://theinbetweengirls.wordpress.com/

  25. Great article! I think kids utilizing iPads is a step in the right direction. If they have something capturing their attention, moving around on the screen, they’ll feel more compelled to listen to what the app is saying. This is only the beginning.

  26. A lot of people are probably agreeing with me here, but I’m going to say it anyway. This is going to sound like I’m old. I’m not. I’m 22. However, this technology geared for children that young is scaring me.

    I’m watching a 4 and 6 year old, basically, there anti-TV device. They have a blast playing with blocks, bowling, trains, drawing while I’m there, However. as soon as I’m gone, they’re back to the TV. I’ve been trying to get them to either listen to me read them a book, or read on their own, and they have no clue what to do. They ask me almost every day if they can play on the computer or watch TV. (I’m only there two hours.) Moreover, how can you teach your children to behave, when you always distract them with electronics?

    I’ll admit, I don’t have kids, and maybe my opinions will change then. But I’m from a time when TV, computer and video games were all limited to thirty minutes a day and I plan to keep that with my children, at least until they are in middle school. (That rule didn’t break until highschool for me.)

    • AT least with iApps they are interacting with technology whereas TV is so passive. I think like most who have posted comments, its about balancing the two. Technology can not replace experience in the real world, but it can contribute in a meaningful way and perhaps open doors to experiences some may never had. The challenge for us as parents, educators or interpreters is to use the media to guide them into having positive, meaningful experiences.

  27. Oh my gosh- we LOVE our iPad. By playing with it, our three year old has learned his abc’s, numbers, and vocabulary words.

  28. nice! I thought I was the only parent who was amazed how a 5yr. old can quickly adapt to an electronic object in “one minute”. But I try to balance her ways by using the “crude” method of scribbling using crayons and pens and play like we used to do before without the gadgetry. I myself have to keep on using a computer to keep up with the times. I should have listened more in school when the floppy disks were the thing…ouch!

  29. My two year old daughter is also obsessed with electronics such as browsing photos on the computer. For example, I bought this Christian music video made for toddlers and children. She was obsessively watching it everyday. After showing it about fifteen minutes a day for two weeks, I decided to cut TV/DVD watching completely. I just think it is not healthy for a two year old. She begs me everyday to show it to her again. But my answer is a firm no. I’m going to wait until she is about five and try again. Modern parents have tools like ipad and TV to keep the children busy and happy. I don’t think it is any good for them. I’ve been thinking about getting an ipad so this blog entry has been very helpful.

  30. I was recently bought an iPad for my birthday, and I asked for it to be taken back. I figured that between my addiction to my laptop, my phone, and Facebook, this was already too much technology for me.

    I would be concerned as a parent too, although pre-schoolers won’t be using their iPads to post on their friends’ walls on Facebook, they’d be learning their ABC’s and numbers like the above poster mentioned. And if this is going to be the fastest way to learn then we’ll all have to get iPads for our pre-schoolers, because we won’t want them to be behind.

    This was a very interesting post!

    Rita

  31. Nice thought! I’m not a parent, but I’m a teacher, and this is definitely something worth-thinking! Thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

  32. The iPad is such a versatile creature and is probably underused by most owners as it has so much more potential than just accessing FaceBook, Twitter and playing Angry Birds!

  33. “medan-agan” which means nothing to excess.

    There is a time to put down the ipad as there is to put down the book as there is to put down the football – life should be about experiencing as much as possible and technology can help but it needs to be kept in balance. If it becomes everything then that is a mistake.

    My son has access to six devices that play music, games or videos all in slightly different ways and formats. And he has plenty of sketch pads filled with scribbles and drawings. That seems good to me – a healthy balance.

    And as an educator (of adults) not learning computer skills will seriously limit him in the future.

    Good blog.

    Regards

    Stephen

  34. Ahhhhh, so NZ is the culprit- jk 😉 Our local school board voted on giving each kindergarten student a ipad this next school year- for where I’m located (Maine in the USA) that is unheard of and caused an uprising of disapproval. I personally would not mind them in the class room, the problem here was that they were going to give them to the students to own, as in take home with them and be responsible for returning with them each day. Which I whole heart-edly disagreed with. How does it work in NZ. Do those ipads stay in the classroom??

    • I’m most familiar with the preschool my daughter Josie attended – Above and Beyond – and yes, the devices stayed in the classroom and were restricted in their availability by time and age of children. Visit the CORE website (linked in article) for some other examples where they are trialing the use in classrooms.

      • will check out the link. I think its a good idea to have them in the classroom, just not going home with the students. THanks for the reply

  35. We don’t have an iAnything in our household as of yet. Having been newly initiated into Adams’ third category of technological reponse, I have resisted being fully incorporated into the screen-age. (I don’t like the idea of having a device that is smarter than me.) I imagine at some point I will give in to the inevitable technological takeover, however, at which point I will likely have to ask my daughter how it all works. I hope we don’t have to go with hot pink, though.

  36. Technology definitely is very important in today’s world , I believe it totally depends on the kid what he’s interested in believe if the kid is interested in playing with gadgets then its very good but , we don’t want to imagine a world without kids who don’t play, who are not notorious ,who don’t run , or whatever my point is practical knowledge is very necessary .lieve it totally depends on the kid what he’s interested in believe if the kid is interested in playing with gadgets then its very good but , we don’t want to imagine a world without kids who don’t play, who are not notorious ,who don’t run , or whatever my point is practical knowledge is very necessary .

  37. I too am loving the term “screen-ager.” My 1 year old niece seems to be confused about the fact that my Blackberry does not have a touch screen. She would stand there for a minute or two trying to move the screen around 🙂 I think that a balance between the two is key. Although I think that it is easier said than done in urban areas where most kids aren’t exactly given the freedom to run around outside as they please. I loved this post as it was quite thought provoking.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  38. Very interesting post. I’m a preschool teacher, and during my first year in college, I was amazed that the first preschool classroom I observed had a computer center set up for students to use during free time! Now that I’m a bit more seasoned, I know this practice is old hat, and I believe learning to navigate different forms of technology is a life skill that all kids need.

  39. There is a time for everything. The children should play. The teenagers should study and the adults should be adults and should make adult things, Why move the order of the stuffs?

  40. When I was born, there was a PC in my house… (it was 1995 and pretty rare in my locality).. My mom wasn’t interested in using it, my bro and dad refused to teach me because I was so little… I learn to use the PC better than them eventually.. When I was six years old..
    Now, I know a hell lot of computer programming languages and stuff.. (so dad and bro are now primitives compared to me, serves them right 😛 😉 )
    Loved your post.
    And its insane to keep up: generations change. The one in which a person grows up is the sweetest to him/her.
    Loved the post.
    Congrats on being freshly pressed.

  41. My daughter (who will be four in a week) loves my iPad. I purchased it for work, I’m a photographer, but didn’t realize what a large world it would unlock for my wee girlie. Her Elmo Alphabet app was the best five bucks I’ve ever spent. It’s awesome. While I’m working on edits or enhancements on my Macbook Pro, she can be sitting right next to me practicing her letters, or learning a new song on the iPad. It makes so that my work time is still together time. And when we’re both done, we can run and play in the yard, building forts or throwing toys for the dogs. I am all for iPads for the pre-k set. What a perfect match!

  42. As soon as I saw this post on the opening screen for WP I knew i had to read it! My son’s preschool had a couple of iPads donated to them that they share between classrooms. He was already a pro at using one by the time his father and I finally purchased our own. He’s had his own computer since shortly before his 2nd birthday and at first I was a little wary about him being so “plugged in.” Would he want to run out and play? Would he know how to just be creative without it being pixelated? He’s 5 now and while he is remarkably plugged in and far more knowledgeable about his computer than I am (granted, it’s a Mac and I’ve always been a PC girl), he also does all of the things that my friends and I used to love doing before all of this technological mumbo jumbo started popping up. He runs and plays and rides his bike and builds with blocks and when it comes time for bed he doesn’t ask to take the iPad with him, he asks for a good old fashioned book … that he’s learning to read thanks to the iPad and computer. It’s a good balance.

  43. Pingback: iPads and pre-schoolers – confessions of a perplexed parent | INNZ is the word | cyberlnx

  44. Great post. I do a lot of blogging/tweeting/talking about iPads and kids.
    Simply because I have three kids with autism, using an iPad has helped them learn to communicate. I think every classroom needs one.

  45. Thanks for the iPad and preschoolers article. I use iPad with high school deaf students in Calif. Keep up the good work. My daily blog is on solar and how to go green. Thanks again. Dan

  46. I am a technology trainer, so I love the newest and greatest thing, however my children will not have access to electronics before the age of two, and after that they will have limited access. Children before the age of two have that time to still develop theirs brain. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics any type of screen time over stimulates a child’s brain, and their learning of physical and social development.
    While I recognize that these apps, can be good, they can be fantastic at a certain age, where the child can experience the good of both worlds, instead of actually hindering critical development.

  47. The way I feel about it is that kids (even little ones) can be exposed to technology, as long as it’s not all they do with their time. I can remember spending some time on the computer most days in my kindergarten class. I also played in the sandbox with the other kids, sat down for story time, took naps, learned patterns, etc. Too much of anything, good or bad, is too much.

  48. Pingback: Weekend Wanderings, mid-July 2011 « We're not lost, Sergeant, We're in … France

  49. I guess it’s true that kids these days need to learn the modern technology of today, such as the iPads because they’ll be needing it as a learning process for them in the future.

    In the Philippines, a new college school has just came up last year. They call it, “Meridian International (Mint) College”. Students from this school were given iPad 2s for free; and these iPads serve as a learning tool for them. It, incredibly, sounds exciting because this school brings a different educational experience for the students of today! 🙂

    Here’s a video that you would might want to check out 🙂 -> http://www.youtube.com/user/mintschool#p/u/2/NvZcW9MgphY

    Here’s also the school’s website if you want to check on it too! 🙂 -> http://www.mintcollege.com

    • That’s in college though, we’re talking about our pre-schoolers? 🙂 And giving tech units to students have been a trend for a while now. They give out Macbok Pros in some universities here. It technically, it’s not free. The student has probably already paid for it via tuition fee.

      Mabuhay!

  50. I think people have a fear now that if they don’t let their children play with these gadgets growing up, when they’re adults, they’re going to be less marketable and capable in this technologically driven world, or the kid will be “afraid” of technology. I honestly believe this fear is unwarranted; children will learn how to use computers when they need to, whether they like it or not. And most will probably spend every day for their entire adult lives staring at screens, whether they like it or not. I don’t believe a child is missing out by not spending their childhood playing with computers, or tv, or games. I think it is important to give children plenty of opportunity to develop interests and experience things outside of computers. There are so many wonderful other things to do that don’t involve being attached to a screen.

  51. I find this all interesting. I try not to be biased, but being an electronics technician that can be a bit tough. I grew up in a small town where going out and riding bikes/swimming/building forts was really all that there was to do. As I grew, I found more technology and was fairly proficient with computers around 13 or so. So it blows my mind having a 3 year old that can do all of that as well. He can pick up and figure out just about any electronic in front of him, he has his own games and learning apps on both my wife and I’s Android phones. We recently got him a DSi as well, and he can use the Wii and PS3 without any issue. I still make him go outside and play as a family and go swimming or fly kites or whatever the activity is for the day. These children learning younger and younger are amazing though. It shows what we could be capable of doing, and that is only with where our technology currently sits. There is a book by John Scalzi called Old Man’s War and it deals some with that. Either way, interesting read and have a great day!

  52. As a student, working to obtain a degree in teaching the preschool aged child, I get to hear mixed reviews on this all the time- the older teachers hating it mostly, and the younger teachers loving it. Part of our curriculum is to help make a child familiar with technology, and in my field experience classroom, that means a smart board at the moment. My mentors are hoping for iPads or the like soon. This blog post grabbed my attention because you hear so many that are either for or against, but you seemed to just be stating the facts, and I look at it this way.

    Technology is a part of our world. It’s not going to magically go away. So, when our younger children have an opportunity to learn on it, let them. Who knows? That iPad may let them explore something that they can’t just take a field trip too. At the same time, though, and what a lot of teachers are trying to do is still let the child make connections through real world experiences as well as letting them experience other things through the technology that they may not have gotten to experience otherwise.

    Anyway- sorry for the long reply- thanks for taking the time out to post this. It’s interesting to see opinions and thoughts from all sides!

  53. There is a lot to be said about pre-schoolers and computer games. On the one hand it’s a great educational tool which as you said is natural, but they do need to ensure that they do spend time outside, running, playing, climbing and using their imagination in fantasy play and day to day play. These are all important. I am a newly qualified teacher and when I was on teaching prac, I learnt from my very wise associate teacher about how the act of playing in a physical space gives children a physical understanding of prepositions and this in turn helps with letter forming and writing later on. I think technology is great but there needs to be balance and real life experiences with worms, dirt, and lots of questions. Just to frame how children are relating their world to technology, I had a little boy in my class who was outside with a girl who is very naturally intuitive, she finds bugs and comes and shows you and she hoards bark, pretty leaves, and seeds in her pocket. She came to me, showed me a little flying insect and we decided to go outside and put it somewhere so it could go home. The little boy looked at it, reached out to touch it (iPad generation) and squashed it. His next response as he looked closely at it was “It’s not working!”.

    Another instance where technology is a common part of life was where I was in the sandpit with a lot of boys. They wanted to make a river but the hose was not attaching to the tap and I tried for a while but it didn’t want to stay on. I came back and told them that the hose is not attaching and so I can’t get the water to work for their river. A little guy looked at the hose and then said “Maybe it ran out of batteries.”

    This is their point of reference. Everything has batteries, even dolls. I was lucky if my doll could blink.

  54. My daughter only just turned two, and she’s been using my iPad for months now. She’s becoming quite the pro.

    In agreement with many other commenters here, I feel it’s very important that she isn’t too reliant on technology and gets other, “real world” activities too – for that reason, I have “screen time” guidelines, which includes the iPad, TV, and computers. She is limited in her exposure to those things, in favour of actually going out and doing stuff, while at the same time is not being left behind or neglected technologically.

  55. Great post. I think there are definitely arguments both ways. These new technologies can definitely be great learning tools but, also, they shouldn’t be the only thing used – there’s still a place formaking a mess and making forts, I think.

  56. This is SO true. I was babysitting my friend’s 5 yr the other day and he said, “Maddy (his nine year old sister) and been on eBay for too long. It’s my turn. I want to download my new favorite song. And then I want to upload it to Moshy Monsters.” I looked at him and said, “What?! How do you know the meaning of uploading and downloading? And why is Maddy on eBay? She’s 9!”

  57. Great idea and thank you for sharing this one to us.Actually, we all obviously know how important technologies in our life. It helps to make our processes run accurate and faster and of course we expect that our child are aware of it as well. All we need to do is to teach them and guide them the uses of technologies and tell them the bad effect if they will used it too much of time. Limit their time in using those specific technologies.

  58. Very insighful post. I have a 6-yr old and a 4-yr old, and my husband and I each have an iPad. They both learned to use it as quickly as we did, but we limit their time on it. First, like others, I don’t want them to miss out on the satisfaction of curling up with a book, with real paper pages. Second, I could not afford to replace my iPad, and I have seen how quickly my kids can accidently demolish similar items. That being said, when we are sharing time together with an iPad (or one of our used iPod Touches), I am always amazed at the enjoyment they get from some of the educational apps (National Geographix, Jigsaw Puzzles, Matching Games). Of course we also often enjoy a game of Angry Birds!
    I am envious of you though! You are quite lucky to have iPads at your child’s preschool. I am sure it will be many years before my children’s public school will acquire something similar.
    Great post! Thanks for sharing!

  59. Wow, what a loaded post. I have four children who will no doubt rock the techno-world as I wallow in the inability to integrate it into my life. Scary stuff!

    Technology for kids is good, as long as it is properly balanced. How to do so is the question of the day.

    Thanks for the great links to great apps. I’ll be passing these along to my SIL for her littles and their ipad experience.

  60. As a teacher for 33 years I can relate that the kids that grow up with this tech are light years ahead of their economically deprived peers. Not only because the tech kids have knowledge but their young brains have developed thinking pattern and insights that it will be impossible for the others to catch up. Not only do we have a wealth gap we are allowing an under class to grow larger and larger. And with all its good intentions, the statistics show that things like head start are not making their hoped for difference.

  61. Great post and congratulations for being Freshly Pressed. Balance is the key. I work in Special Education and we use high tech items within our day. For some children it is their only form of communication.

  62. Balance between the two, yes. But I really don’t see an issue if I hold off on technology for my 4-yo daughter. My sister and I grew up where we spent both sunny and rainy days outdoors for hours on end and the only technology we had then was a nintendo family system, but we caught on pretty quickly with how technology evolved. I do understand introducing our children to technology, but I hope it’s not because of a false notion that if a child doesn’t know how to use an iPad, they’re not smart or will do poorly in school or will be left behind by the trend and teased by peers.

    But then again, I don’t even have cable tv and I rely on public television to entertain my kid, so I might not even know what I’m saying.

  63. All of my kids have iPods. When they first received them, I was prepared to get out the kitchen timer and enforce strict time limits. Much to my surprise, after the initial squeal of delight in a new app, they rarely think about them. Kids are kids and they have the same attention span with technology as they do with other pastimes. Whether the puzzle is in digital form or on the table in a million pieces, I have found they spend the same amount of time focused on each. My 3 year old still begs to go outside and play much more than he asks for his iPod. My 5 year old colors and reads more than she touches a screen. My 14 year old is even more interested in learning to cook and going to the gym than having Facetime with her friends. All this with a father in the house who never puts down his iPhone or iPad (in his defense, it’s part of his job.)

    From my experience, my kids are touchscreen savvy and since it is all a mundane, normal part of daily life, there is no glamor in it at all. My challenge is to teach them how to use it as a tool that will enhance their lives without crippling it. I also must monitor and intervene when there are signs of addiction. I must make sure content is safe and appropriate. In other words, I must be an active, engaged parent. This is a daily job that gets more complex as our society and technology advances. All these things I must do for every aspect of their lives. Its part of my job.

    My approach is the same with Halloween candy. If I let them eat it all in one night, there either won’t be any left the next day, or they will get tired of it before they finish. Either way I win. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t let my children run all over me or my house. They have boundaries and I choose to pick which battles are worth fighting. It is more important for me to teach my children self-regulation. Part of that instruction is their understanding that technology is not a replacement for physical activity or personal interaction. They must understand how technology FITS into their world, not believe that it IS their world.

  64. There is a story that I was told once about a grandfather babysitting his granddaughter. She was under 2, not really talking well and just getting the hang of her motor skills. When he put a coloring book in front of her to color she tried to zoom in with her fingers. He didn’t understand what she was trying to do and she didn’t understand why the picture wouldn’t move.

  65. Pingback: Interactive books (and apps) for toddlers. | ev Reaches

  66. I have been an early childhood teacher for 13 years. Balance. In the past the thought was, not what a child was doing with technology ( a computer game, etc.)but what they could be doing “instead”.

    We all know that technology is here to stay. Not that we should replace children’s natural curiosity to explore and do “real” things with iPads, but how can they be used to enhance their lives. What role does technology play for a preschooler? Or in an early childhood classroom? I think it is necessary to show children what these tools can do, ipad, computers, etc…not to replace other types of learning. But how can they enhance the child’s learning process?

    I have been putting together an article to post about how I have used my iPad in my early childhood classroom.

    Part of my curriculum is to introduce a piece of artwork to my children about once a month. We discuss the colors, shapes, images, etc. They are then given similar colors to paint with. No directions, the lesson isn’t suppose to be them copying the painting. They are simply left to explore. Last year I was able to enhance this lesson by customizing an app on my iPad with artwork by the artist we were studying. I was able to go through all the art and handpick the ones that were appropriate for my students and then place them in a slide show. To me it was a great example of how to appropriately use technology in an early childhood classroom. I plan this year to find more ways to use my iPad to enhance my curriculum.

  67. I love the thought of using more technology for our children’s education. Currently, I am working on using the iPod touch and the iPad in my classroom this fall. Children are great learners and if it is fun to learn, then they will remember what they have learned. I will say, though, that technology in education is only as good as the teacher. True teaching knows no technological boundaries.

  68. I’m a little bit spilt on what side to take here. I think it’s a better idea to get kids away from technology and let them learn the “real” way. But at the same time, I know from experience that learning by using technology hands on can be a lot easier because of the way the subject is taught to them.

    I just blogged about the iPad and its “effects”, check it out, you may find it relevant
    http://techtonicc.wordpress.com/

  69. Pingback: As Technology Evolves… So Does Education. Does it? | A Bunch of Nonsense

  70. Scary but true. Some of our friends’ toddlers are well adept at using iPhones. I’m sure I’ll be on the iPad education train as soon as my daughter turns 2.

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