Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Kids and the iPad

Over the weekend, I spent a lot of time with my nephews. As always, it's a memorable experience and I am reminded that I am not made of parental material. Visiting them I brought my iPad. And to entertain (distact) the babies, I made sure to load up on a wide range of apps for their enjoyment.

A few observations. First, the 3.5 year old is already pretty good at navigation around the iPad. I've heard stories about how even one year olds know how to use the iPad. Well, kids like buttons and the iPad is pretty much devoid of them. But the multi-touch feature is excellent for just this purpose. My nephew loves the app Drawing Pad. There are an assortment of drawing tools and cut-outs that he can pick and display on screen. And to be honestly, it's a lot less messy as well.

Another thing I like about the iPad is that it isn't a television. There are interactive and educational values if parental or an adult supervision is involved. Sure, I could have just put on the Netflix app and let Blues Clue do all the teaching but that isn't any different from just plotting the child in front of a TV. The Toy Story app offers more than just the app reading to the child. There are games and songs that the child can pick from that adds more value than just watching the movie on TV. And yes, if either of you are tired, the iPad does play video as well.

Former First Lady, former Senator from NY, and current Secretary of State Hilliary Clinton said it takes a village to raise a child. She should have also added that it needs to be a very patient village. My nephew wants instant gratification and he can get very impatient. The 9 month old baby as well. With the baby, we go through some animal sounds and he loves playing with the virtual fish in the pond apps. The old one is beginning to appreciate games but I've limited him to what he can or cannot play. The key is to make sure the apps are not too overtly complicated to understand.

But You Want To Protect iPad. Kids are rough. The iPad can take it to a certain extent of abuse. I've got the sleeve that I bought from Apple but boy, there's is something about pounding on things that kids love. Drops haven't been an issue as I make damn sure the iPad is't be tossed around the kids do with their toys. The iPad is my toy. I'm sharing with them. And I take it away when things get too rough. So be ware of handling.

Over all, the iPad with the right apps, adult supervision and the right attitude, and protection can offer a lot of entertainment and educational values for children whether it's watching a video, learning the alphabet, or drawing.

More than that, I also see the value in schools providing iPads or tablets like it that can make learning less of a chore and more part of children's lives. Believe me, kids today are growing up in a mobile age where they will not know a world without wireless Internet, iPhones, and iPads. So might as well make the most of people and make sure these digital tools play a productive part of their lives.

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