Children spend many years learning about the world around them, and there are numerous ways to get knowledge about their surroundings. Living in a digital era, it is no surprise that most toddlers know how to manipulate mobile devices better than some adults. Jenna Hoffstein, developer of the award-winning kids game “The Counting Kingdom,” shares her thoughts on the mobile use among children and tips on how parents can introduce their child to these devices.
Like most toddlers, my son has been interested in our smartphones for quite some time now. We felt concerned with whether Sebastian is of age to use it for educational purposes. “This is an individual choice for each parent, but there are some recommended guidelines,” said Hoffstein in a recent interview with Motherhood Through My Eyes. “The American Academy of Pediatrics warns against digital media screen time for kids under the age of two, though a 2013 survey by Common Sense Media reported that 38% of kids under two have used a mobile device and 6% were daily users.”
Hoffstein added: “If a parent chooses to let kids engage in screen time at a young age I believe that moderation and guidance from parents are key. There are many benefits that can be gained from playtime with educational apps, but parental oversight is always important!”
Introducing Mobile To Your Child
Even when parents take their time with introducing their child to technology, there will still be challenges. Hoffstein believes the challenge for parents is creating the safest digital environment they can by choosing apps with safe content that do not have ads or in-app purchases.
Once parents successfully introduce their child to mobile devices, there are certain benefits to choosing to use an app over good old-fashioned flashcards. “Apps can offer so many benefits over simply using flashcards,” noted Hoffstein. “First, a good educational app shouldn’t just be digital flashcards with pretty graphics layered on top. A fun game should be so much more than that.”
Hoffstein explained that educational games can offer a responsive and dynamic learning environment for kids where they are guided through educational concepts, where their mistakes are explained and their successes celebrated, and where the difficulty can be dynamically adjusted for each individual player. “A fun app will engage kids for longer than flashcards, ensuring that they’re getting the most out of the educational content,” she added. “Apps can also cover a wide range of topics that don’t work for flashcards.”
Because a child’s mind can be quite delicate at any age, parents looking to introduce their child to a mobile device, such as a tablet, for educational purposes should keep an eye on the types of apps their children use. “Parents know their kids best, and I think this comes down to parental guidance and moderation,” Hoffstein said. “Creating a safe digital space with carefully chosen apps, playing together to help kids explore and learn, and setting boundaries all will help create an overall positive experience for kids and parents with mobile devices.”
“The Counting Kingdom” can be found under the Educational Games and Kids categories of the App Store for iPad and iPhone iOS mobile devices.