The introduction of touchscreen tablets into the marketplace represents a technological “game changer” for children, according to a UGA human development specialist.
“The iPad and other tablets are logical; I touch this and something happens,” said Diane Bales, an associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and a UGA Extension specialist. “You’re seeing the connection between the action, and the interface is so easy.”
The challenge for parents can be managing their child’s use of the device.
“It can be misused,” Bales said. “There are a lot of apps and programs marketed to children that are not very appropriate in terms of being child-directed that aren’t building any deep knowledge. One recommendation is to simply screen what you give to kids. Don’t just download (an app) because somebody said it was cool. Play it yourself first to see if it’s appropriate.”
Here are a few other tips from Bales:
• Be vigilant. Most tablets have ways to limit what children can see, which can be useful.
• The tablet is not a “babysitter,” so get involved with your child during tablet time.
• Don’t blindly trust a manufacturer’s claim that an app is educational.
• Provide structure and consider time limits.
For parents who want more information, Bales suggests they check out the “Selecting Apps to Support Children’s Learning” link at http://tinyurl.com/of8gukl.