5/1/15

Top Tech That Inspires Learning



The amount of hours children consume media has made headlines over the years, and many experts suggest that children are exposed to a technology overload that can pose severe risks. However, technology, if used the right way, can help children learn. Although watching television and hours spent playing video games may not always be educational, there are apps and games that do promote learning.


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Technology
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly suggests that parents limit technology use for children under the age of two. At this age, learning happens by interacting with people and objects, not screens. Instead, give your tots toys like blocks and balls that promote motor skills and passive toys that light up and play sounds.
Older children, however, can benefit from playing apps and games on their favorite devices, such as the following:
  • E-readers: VTech offers an interactive reading system called V.Reader that makes learning to read fun. Stories come to life through animation, sounds and music. V.Reader also promotes vocabulary development with the animated word dictionary. There are more than 45 educational e-books that can be downloaded to V.Reader.
  • Tablet: Great for older kids, iPads and other tablets help promote creativity through apps like “Garage Band” and “Splash of Color.” These devices also make it easy to learn on the go. Apple’s iBooks and iTunes give your children access to content including books, lectures and videos.
  • Smartphones: Devices with large screens, like the Samsung Galaxy S 6, are best for running apps. The screen size causes less stress on your little one’s eyes, making the educational experience a good one.
Apps
Apple’s App Store features 80,000 learning apps for kids. So how do you know which app is right for your child?
PBS put together a list of tips that helps make the app selection process easier. Look for well-known educational brands that have a history of producing educational content. PBS recommends checking the age-rating of the app because not all apps appeal to the same age groups. Apps make money through in-app purchases, so choose apps that don’t market to your child or display heavy advertising that may entice your little one to buy virtual items. PBS says that these apps can be easily identified because they generally have a “lite” or “free” label in the title.
Common Sense Media’s ON for Learning Award Winners include apps like “Tally Tots,” “Reading Rainbow,” “Faces iMake,” “Scribblenauts Remix” and “Mobile Observatory.”
Games
Shira Lee Katz, senior director of education content for Common Sense Media, advises parents to look out for the “Three Cs” when selecting games for children.
  1. Connection: Katz compares selecting a game to choosing a good book because it is important for kids to connect with what they’re playing. Games like “Love to Count Pirate Trio” and “Journey” promote learning because of their characters and storyline.
  2. Critical thinking: This allows kids to dive deeper into one specific skill, subject or topic. Although quizzes and question-and-answer style games may seem to be educational and fun on the surface, they may not be helping children as much as you think. Instead, try “I Spy Castle” and “Dragon Box+.”
  3. Creativity: One of the best ways for kids to learn is to create content themselves because it gives them a sense of ownership toward their learning and many kids take pride in showing off their creative skills. Games that encourage creativity include “Garage Band,” “Minecraft” and “Little Big Planet.”


In addition to being the founder of First Time Mom and Dad, April is an award-winning published writer. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com

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