To be or not to be mobile? That is the question tormenting both parents and teachers in concern to the access of little kids to mobile devices and technology. Many adults believe that children should stay away from phones and tablets for as many years as possible. They see apps as a threat to a child’s intellectual development. Moreover, they see it as a possibility for kids to get addicted to mobile devices and subsequently have their futures inevitably ruined.
On the other hand, fans of educational apps point out that the world we live in would be impossible without mobile devices. After all, both parents and teachers spend a huge deal of time in front of the laptop or on their smartphone. Kids see that and they naturally want to copy them. Technological advancement is not a viral infection but a natural part of our times. The attempts to throw technology out of our lives and the lives of our children is irrelevant. The question is rather how we should include mobile devices in the everyday life of the little ones so they can have a positive effect on their development.
A MODERATE TECHNOLOGY DIET
Well, the truth is somewhere out there in between the two extremes – it’s in the balanced, healthy and conscious involvement of technology in children’s education and development. Avoiding apps because of our nostalgia towards the good old times might prevent us from seeing the real educational benefits of mobile devices.
As we know, small kids are extremely receptive and learn super quickly. Educational apps can in fact teach kids useful skills such as dexterity, awareness, creativity etc. All these qualities are hard to develop during a “safer” and more passive endeavor such as watching television. Having said that, using apps might be more of an active activity than we’ve thought.
Letting kids use mobile apps doesn’t mean confining them to four walls and depriving them from sports, outdoor activities and games. However, the healthy use of mobile apps strongly depends on the parents’ involvement in their child’s life.
MOM, DAD & ME
Mobile app games are often seen as a pastime for kids and as a getaway for parents – a chance for them to finally be left alone. Actually, just like with any outdoor activity, parents’ participation in the process of using educational apps is more than welcome. Mom and dad can in fact further stimulate educating their child by asking questions or giving answers while their kid plays the game.
In addition, it’s up to the parents whether mobile games will be present to a healthy extent in the child’s everyday life. Instead of absolutely forbidding the children to play games on the tablet or the phone, parents can permit the use of mobile devices while clearly defining how much and when they can play.
And when it comes to the concern that virtual reality presents only danger, it’s good to remember that the word “virtual” means “not existing in reality” or simply – fantastic. In this sense virtual games and apps are just as “dangerous” as other games that stimulate the imagination. Or as the founder of Digital Kidz, Ivelina Atanassova puts it: “It’s important to understand that it’s not the number of mobile devices in the classroom, but their appropriate use, that is to be our goal when we examine the connection between education and technology.”
Last but not least – with or without mobile apps, the most crucial and essential role in a child’s development is the family environment. Games on the tablet cannot substitute a parent’s attention. Neither can they corrupt the childhood of a kid who has a calm and loving family. When the parents are available to communicate, to play with their children and answer the innumerable questions popping up in their little heads, then a game on the phone or the tablet is just another shared activity, part of the healthy upbringing of the child.