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Interactive E-Books – A 21st Century Parent’s Dilemma

April 24th, 2014by admin

boy with ipadWe’ve all seen the sensational headlines about young children who cannot speak, interact with others or even play with regular toys because of their attachment to I-pods, I-phones, Kindles and other electronics. What’s a responsible parent to do? We want our children to learn what they need in the best way possible. Are touch-screen electronics friend or foe?

In 2001, Mark Prensky, education and tech writer, dubbed the generation of children born after 2000 “digital natives.” If you have older children, raise your hand if you’re guilty of getting them to explain something on your phone or television. Kids who have never known a world without smart phones and the rest see these items to be as non-threatening as their pet goldfish. How is do you balance technology with the idealized vision of childhood parents born in the 1970‘s, 1980‘s and even the 1990‘s hold?

Since the beginning of time, every new medium of communication has been greeted with skepticism and suspicion by older generations before eventually becoming part of life’s general landscape. Why should touch-screen technology be any different? How we as parents approach it is the key. In her book, “Screen Time,” Lisa Guernsey develops the idea of the “Three C’s.” Content, context and your child. A fourth “C” might be common sense.

Everything does not have to be educational. Things that are fun can also serve to teach important skills and lessons to kids. Electronics are another way to have fun, keeping in mind your own particular child’s ability to handle content. A fun interactive e-book might serve to keep your 2-6 year-old entertained. He might lose interest for a while and then come back and use that same, familiar, fun book to help him figure out phonics or spelling.

Rather than trying to limit your child’s screen time, experiment with giving them unlimited free time, just as they have unlimited time with Lego’s or dolls. At first, your child might be all-I-pod-all-the-time, but most kids ease off and treat the I-pod like any other toy. While there are kids that need help controlling their screen time, most kids self-regulate.

As a parent, your job is to use common sense. What works for this child? What is too much? In an article titled, “The Touch Screen Generation,” the author presents a balanced view of touch-screen technology. If you find yourself torn between having your child play wooden blocks or the Kindle, the article is well-worth your time.

After reading, go ahead and download a couple of books and let your child play. See what happens. It’s certainly not Maria Montesorri’s approach, but she did not have access to these devices. There is no reason the two worlds cannot or should not co-exist.

If you’re interested in trying and downloading an eBook for kindle or IPad here’s a good one for 2-6 year olds called ‘Betsy the Basset Hound’s Busy Day’ enjoy!



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