Whether we approve or not our children and grandchildren are going to use computers a lot more than we did at their age. It is up to us as adults to regulate that usage and to use the opportunities that are available to help our offspring.
3 Year Old Children
After watching my 3 year old grandson playing Angry Birds on an iPhone I was amazed and horrified. Amazed that he had it all figured out on his own and that he could explain it all to me and horrified in case he dropped a £500 iPhone in his excitement.
I suggested to my daughter that a tablet computer would be better to play games, a lower risk and cheaper to replace than an iphone. A few days later I saw my grandson playing Angry Birds on a bright green tablet computer that she had bought for €100.
Advantages of Tablets
Manufacturers have brought out ruggedized tablets specially designed for young children at a fraction of the price of an iPhone. These are designed to stand rough use and being dropped, so will last a year or two.
The screen is large enough to play games on and the touch-screen is the perfect interface for children of this age.
What Do Children Learn by Using a Tablet?
Games are the medium by which all children learn and what they learn is only limited by the apps that you choose to install on your child’s tablet.
Even Angry Birds has all kinds of concepts, both simple and complex that your child will absorb.
- Using a multi-touch screen is a skill that I have not learned yet, but my grandson has it totally sussed out. He zooms in and out and rotates the screen without giving it a thought. These screens are the future of computing, so at age 3 he has learned one essential life skill
- There is the concept of stored energy in the catapult that fires the birds. My grandson knows that the further back he pulls the catapult the further it will fire the bird. He is doing complex calculations in his head every time he uses the catapult, not in number-terms, nut in terms of cause and effect
- There is also a strategic element in the game. He needs to plan which part of the target to destroy first if he is to totally destroy it
Angry birds is just one game. Children watch television and learn colours and to count and to recognise letters by watching educational programmes. You can reinforce that learning and add to it by downloading low-cost and free games to your child’s tablet.
These games include ones that aid in colour and letter recognition and number patterns and relationships. They will really give your child a head start in school.
Most free games can only be used a limited number of times before they stop working and you do not want your impressionable child to be hit with advertisements every minute of the day, so it is worth paying the small cost of games that prove popular.
You can buy a sim card pre-loaded with a data allowance to download games, but these start at $5. Alternatively you can connect it to your home wifi network and download games over the Internet.
As your child becomes older he or she will be able to understand enough to help you to choose and download games over your broadband connection. Broadband and phone deals from all ISPs include a wireless router that will allow the tablet to be used as a computer with full Internet access for older children.
What about Health and Fitness?
Tablets designed for children have parental controls that you can set to lock up the tablet after so many minutes, so you are in full control at all times. The tablet is just one more tool that parents can use to help their children to learn about the World around them.