One of the things that technology is doing is changing the parameters of how we do things, and education is no different. The iPad was not specifically designed as a piece of educational technology, but it was designed as a mass communication device, and so for educators to incorporate tablets into their classrooms is probably more natural than parents may feel.
Here are six ways kids can benefit from properly managed onscreen time, both in the classroom and outside it.
Knowing they can ask the computer anything they want to know drives children’s desire to do independent research. Children can only learn what is available to them, and traditionally parents, friends, teachers and the wider community were the only gateways to learning. Now the internet gives kids a vast library of material, which they can access at the touch of a button.
Educational games that require children to follow objects and interact with them can boost hand-eye coordination. Young gamers also learn how to interact with systems, for example they discover that pressing the right button will invoke the desired action.
Many children use their voice to enter their search queries into search engines, and they then need to read and evaluate the results that are presented. Over time, this improves kids’ language skills, and they become faster and more adept at finding the information they want.
Interactive websites and games help children learn to solve problems, for instance when they work their way through challenges to get to the next level. Even simply using their devices makes them more adept at problem solving; they work out how to play new games or interact with new programmes, and they learn to solve connectivity issues.
Screens offer a stimulating environment of colour, sound and movement that can be more interesting to children than reading a book. They provide an opportunity to engage children who are struggling with traditional learning environments.
Being able to use gadgets, both socially and professionally, is now an essential life skill. Our whole future is about technology and, arguably, the kids who can navigate it best will be at an advantage as they get older.