How do we create a healthy balance of tech in our children’s lives?
This question is similar to what our parents dealt with in terms of monitoring TV time when we were children, and, believe it or not, how people felt about too much time spent reading books several decades ago.
Just as social play and physical exercise are incredibly important to a child's development, technology should also be part of a balanced diet of experiences.
One tip is to create a family media plan, laying out ground rules for how much time is appropriate for your child, and where in the house technology use is allowed, such as a high-traffic space like the kitchen.
What should parents look for when choosing a tech device for their kids?
It really depends on what your goals are for technology. Technology can be a powerful tool for learning, and if that’s your goal, look for tablets that are designed specifically for children, meaning they are tough, safe, and smart. When considering tablets, for example, look for durable, kid-tough designs that fit into small hands and can pass drop tests. Ensure that your kids stay safe with a tablet that has filtered content and has been carefully reviewed by or designed with educational experts and is COPPA-compliant. And find devices that access content that has age-appropriate educational content that offers a personalized learning experience, grows with your child and is engaging.
How do parents know the content and apps are “educational”?
That’s a great question, as there are tens of thousands of apps that claim to be 'educational,'and we know that the quality varies significantly. You want to find games that are created in collaboration with learning experts and are kid-tested thoroughly. So:
- Ensure that you review the games and apps yourself by playing lite versions and watching trailers.
- Research games using third-party organizations such as Common Sense Media for unbiased evaluations, and
- Turn to trusted educational entertainment brands, such as LeapFrog, that create and distribute safe, educational, COPPA-compliant content for young children.
What’s the most important thing an educational app or game should have?
Great educational games should also be fun and they need to be developmentally appropriate. Look for games that:
- Don’t just assess or quiz your child, but find games that also teach your child new concepts and ideas.
- Offer a personalized learning experience, meaning the curricular questions automatically adjust up and down depending on your child’s unique learning needs
- Provide supportive feedback and encouragement
- Are safe and COPPA-compliant
What apps out there do you recommend?
LeapFrog offers over 1,000 titles in our on-line App Center, and we also have cartridge games at major retailers and websites. Some of my favorites include the Get Ready for Kindergarten game, which is a compilation of several apps designed to help young children prepare for school. Another recommendation is our Octonauts science learning game, designed for children 3 – 5. In this game we wanted to encourage children to think like scientists, and even partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to bring real-life photos of sea creatures into the experience.
Go to LeapFrog.com to find out about their educational tools, and visit their App Center for over 1,000 titles!