Monday, December 10, 2012

iKids: Whether or not the littles should be knee-deep in technology

Some people really despise technology in the hands of littles. Hi, I'm one of them. Well, I was . . . before. I'm all about mud pies, wooden blocks, playing in the rain, kick ball, pretending -- the good stuff.

I just can't discount the value of technology. In a progressive sense, my children and all the little humans of their generation are going to be so deep into tech-everything that they may invent a mud pie simulator. I can see it now: "that earthy, fresh mud smell, a spray of immune-strengthening serum, but no mess! includes a free eraser app for you iSuperPhone to clean up the virtual mess".

Really though, don't knock it til you try it. (What a stupid saying, though. Here don't knock drugs before you try 'em. Taste some arsenic. Speed 20 miles over the limit without a seat belt on. Eat triple the amount of recommended trans fat. THEN you can have an opinion). OK, well, at least just go the "not for me" route rather than the "wrongly wrong wrongness" route.

Kids are flexible sponges the size of your average planet waiting to soak up every tid bit of information. Whether they are smashing their hands into earthworm infested brown mud while they attempt to make pies on a concrete-step pretend kitchen or staring bug eyed as they seamlessly manipulate some learning app while they learn ABCs: it's GOOD for them.

It's all about balance.

I want to put in a quick note here too: Think more along the lines of uber upgrades from 90's PC games like Reader Rabbit, Mavis Bacon, Sim City, and Oregon Trail (heck, these need to be made into apps in my very humble opinion), less the touch-screen version of xbox lego star wars or nintendo wii super mario or NFLumpteenthousand for whatever-have-you.

To back up my egregious claims here is a list of my favorite apps for the kiddos:

This one in particular deviates from the jillions of ABC/123 games and gets into an area that tend to be neglected with younger kids: geography. It starts out in a puzzle-style game that gradually includes more countries. Even I learned from playing on this app.

Who doesn't love the fuzzy red muppet? Don't lie. Tons of mini-activities keep this app interesting. It is colorful and interactive. Bonus: you can track your child's activity within the app to see what they might be learning. However, if you find Elmo's voice obnoxious you may find yourself temporarily deleting it on occasion.

Math. I hate math but this app will make anyone enjoy it. There is a gradual increase in difficulty as tasks are mastered through the game. It starts with a very simple game to identify numbers and try basic counting. Later on it gets into simple addition. Some people complain that it needs more games to keep it interesting but my kids haven't ever seemed bored of it. 

This app is very cute and very touch-based. Kids draw shapes, manipulate colors, and touch numbers. It's all about these basics. This is probably better for the youngest tech geeks. My 1.5 year old and 3 year old both love it but my 3 year old has it completely figured out and isn't nearly as enamored as my younger girl.

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