Recently the Daily Mail published a study reporting that “the number of children with speech difficulties has leapt 70 percent in 6 years. The rise has been blamed on the growing use of screen-based gadgets as convenient “babysitters” and a trend for hard-working parents to spend less time with their children.”
Tanith Carey a U.K. based journalist in a recent article in the Saturday Star writes “..as adults we are keen to justify our behavior by downloading every learning app going to persuade ourselves our children are being educated. But isn’t the essential truth that we are just engaging in ‘anything – for- a- quiet- life’ parenting?”
The use of the “screen” as a baby sitter is nothing new. In fact it wasn’t long ago that we were lamenting the use of the TV as a baby sitter for our children. Given the correct knowledge, watching TV can be good for your child.
When it comes to gadgets, at this time, the iPad has a clear advantage in this realm because it has had a head start on all the other tablets and the depth of scope in educational applications is unrivalled.
My personal journey (as a therapist) with the iPad initially stemmed from using an App on my iPhone in an attempt to engage a child in a task that was difficult for them, but yet an integral part of the therapy process. The use of the App changed a tedious pencil and paper task into an exciting activity with an animated voice that engaged the child and achieved my therapy goal.
I knew then, that the iPad would become a fundamental part of my therapy, because the apps would allow me to target skills that had previously been difficult to address.
The use of the iPad goes far and beyond using it for children with special needs. The choice and variety of apps make it a phenomenal tool for developing existing skills, teaching new ones and ultimately preventing difficulties. In fact, far be it from “pacifying our children with this electronic Valium.” (Tanith Carey)
The iPad can empower the parent and enable them to help their child. Most importantly, kids LOVE using them, and learn without your having to make them study!
In an article on Gizmodo a dad puts forward his case for buying iPads for his children as follows:
- Replacement Mobile Gaming Platform
- Entertainment on the go
- Educational Assistance
- Light duty computer replacement
The iPad is a tool not a panacea; – another weapon in an educator’s arsenal.
An app cannot teach everything that one needs to know. It will enhance learning when used appropriately, at the right time and for the right reason.
Gadgets are NOT going to go away; in fact there are new ones appearing all the time. Consequently it is our role as educators and parents to make sure that the way we use them and how we expose our children to these gadgets serves to educate them.