Wednesday, 1 May 2013

10 Reasons Why Tablets are Good for Young Kids

I've put together my list of ten reasons why tablets are good for young kids. My kids are 4 and 6 and use a tablet most days. They use either a learning tablet or an Android tablet. I think it's very good for them.

There have been a lot of negative pieces in the media recently about why tablets are bad for young kids. Certainly there are issues about how they are used and I can't see how a young child who uses a tablet for many hours a day is getting to do all the other things they should be. But overall I see tablet usage as a net positive for my kids. Let's look at the reasons why.

  1. A tablet can add a bit of fun to learning useful skills like reading and writing. My younger son was happy to trace letters on his LeapPad2 at a time when he didn't want to write on paper at all, and he enjoys the Ultra eBooks to add a bit of variety to his reading. My older son ends up reading a lot of text within games - he doesn't even notice that he is reading tricky words, and it sharpens his comprehension because he had a good reason to understand what he is reading. He also loves to type notes about things he is interested in. He will often write longer pieces on a tablet than he would on paper. 
  2. Games are brilliant for developing logical thinking. This is a really important skill - it's the one I've used most in my IT career. And yes, games like Cut the Rope and Where's My Water are brilliant for developing logical thinking. For example, Cut the Rope often requires kids to think multiple steps ahead and then execute their plan. We're currently playing Lost City together which is a brilliant problem-solving puzzler in the style of Broken Sword or a simpler Myst. Great stuff! 
  3. Tablets games are brilliant for developing coordination skills. Games like Fruit Ninja and Temple Run are excellent at improving reaction times and fine motor control. 
  4. Games are great at getting kids to do stuff that is difficult and keep trying. Perseverance is a very useful skill for little kids to have. Many games are well designed to keep players motivated. I think it's much easier to walk away from a physical toy or game when the going gets tough. In a game they keep trying and trying so they can get to the next level.
  5. Apps and games for tablets are reasonably inexpensive. They provide a good way for kids to start learning to manage their pocket money and decide what is worth spending money on.  There's not much that will give them the same entertainment value for .99c in a store. And I'd rather my son spends his pocket money on Cut the Rope Time Travel and feeds virtual candy to Om Noms than spends that money on candy for himself. 
  6. Popular games are social currency. My son and his friends spend ages talking about games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope. They draw pictures of the characters and write about them. They take the same role as popular children's TV shows did when I was a child.
  7. If your child is interested in learning about a subject you'll often find an app to help. We've found anatomy apps for learning about the human body and apps for learning languages. This is a good way for kids to learn about things they are interested in. The LeapPad 2 has some good content for learning about geography which both my kids are interested in.
  8. Tablets are great for developing digital creativity. Most tablets have a camera that can be used to take photos and videos, there are drawing apps that make good use of the touch screen and comic creator apps that can bring it all together. Graphic design and photography are such important skills these days, kids should definitely be exposed to them early.
  9. Tablets make great eReaders for kids whether it's early interactive picture books or first chapter books. One thing we love is that my older son can find out about a book he really wants to get and start reading it pretty much instantly. We also have the Overdrive app so we can borrow books from our local library, this is brilliant for borrowing books for a bedtime story. Our local library isn't easy for us to visit. 
  10. Tablets are fun. There's really nothing wrong with this. Kids should be having fun!

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