So MSNBC is running this story about a new study on the use of smartphones and similar devices in children. Looks like there’s a decent amount of media use for young kids out there. Let’s just go straight to the graphs:

The study notes:

Nine-month-olds spend nearly an hour a day watching television or DVDs, 5-year-olds are begging to play with their parents’ iPhones, and 7-year-olds are sitting down in front of a computer several times a week to play games, do homework, or check out how their avatars are doing in their favorite virtual worlds. Television is still as popular as ever, but reading may be beginning to trend downward…

Children under age 2 "spend twice as much time watching TV and videos (53 minutes) as they do reading books (23 minutes)," Common Sense Media says.

If you’ve been here for a while you may know that I bought my son an iPod Touch  a few months ago and a year ago I noted that my son has more games on my phone than I have. Now I know what it sounds like – I’m some sort of a bad parent who uses technology like a pacifier. The thing is, for kids the ‘games’ that they play tend to be educational…or at least the ones I let my kids play are. They range from reading games, math games, shapes, colors, etc. My son can play a tile matching game five times before you can set one up using physical cards. And tv is no different for my kids (who do have a tv in their room but it’s not connected to cable – just dvd’s). Both of my kids were mesmerized by watching videos like Your Baby Can Read, Preschool PrepCo and Leapfrog videos. They thought they were being entertained – they were learning how to read before kids that go to school would and it works and it’s awesome. See, if used correctly then tv and ‘games’ are not the boogie man. They’re tools to help educate. I even let my son watch Sid the Science Kid on Netflix if he’s good. He learns about nature and science and actually ‘learns’ and then when we go outside he can talk about what he sees and how it was in the show.

Don’t be fooled. Today’s youth is not our youth. When we were young and we heard stories about our parents walking to school we laughed. Well our kids will be making fun of us for carrying around a backpack full of books and going to our lockers between classes to swap out the heavy ones. They’ll have a tablet and submit homework digitally. It doesn’t matter if you like that or not – that’s standard within 10 years if not sooner. You can either try to fight it or embrace. I’m letting my kids dive in head first because if done right and if they are a part of this technology from the start then it won’t be a shock to them in the future.

Both of my kids can easily navigate an iPhone or a Windows Phone and get to the “games” they play. And for the holidays I’m getting my older son that Sesame Street Kinect game. If you think that children shouldn’t be exposed to technology at a young age and you keep your kids on the sideline that’s fine with me. It just makes it easier for my kids to be at the top of the class…

3 COMMENTS

  1. I have to agree with you. We inherited a LeapPad when my son was 4, and last Christmas we gave him a Leapster Explorer. I can’t remember when I started multiplication tables, but now it isn’t until 3rd grade. BECAUSE of the Explorer, he’s already asked me about multiplication so I’ve discussed 0, 1, and 10s so far. He even grasped the concept (using 2s and 3s) that x times y means y sets of x. I’ve met college students who couldn’t grasp that concept.

    And even though he also plays “non-educatonal” games (we’re massive LEGO-game fans…), we ALSO read 3 books every night (been doing that for over a year now; we were reading 1 or 2 since he was 2), so I put forth that reading to your kids and electronic gaming toys/computers are not mutually exclusive.

    Off topic: hmmm, new site design. I’ll have to see how it grows on me…

  2. My kids are 6 and 7 years old. They each have their own iPod touch to use. They write and read email, they use FaceTime to call each other, me or my wife, or their grandparents. They do their home work on the iMac, share an iPad for movies and other games, and have been known to make some pretty epic levels in Little Big Planet 2 on their Playstation 3. They have educational games on the Wii that they absolutely love (not to mention having become expert players of some classic N64 and Gamecube Mario and Zelda games – not such a big fan of the virtual console NES offerings that I had as a kid). They can both read and write very well. They know basic conversational spanish, and my oldest is actually showing high school level math comprehension. They started off with Baby Genius, and all of those dvds when they were babies, they had leap pads, and other reading and educational entertainment devices. They love the disney channel, sprout, and other edutainment tv shows. They have a computer that they share to play games, and are among the growing crowd of kids with online avatars in a couple virtual world games. They have written emails to santa, the easter bunny and their own personal tooth fairies.. These kids have an imagination that I could have only wished to have when I was younger. And it all comes from their exposure to a seemingly unlimited supply of entertainment, information and experiences.

    Christmas at the Leiter house will be capped off with a new computer for the kids. (My wife an I both got new Macs a couple months ago) They’ve been using a POS compaq tower that I picked up for free for about 2 years ago. They’re getting a Mac Mini which will not only make it easier for me to make sure they don’t get into something that they shouldn’t, but it will tie in very easily with the rest of our household apple ‘family’ and use a hell of a lot less power while doing it.

    Do I think that too much tech is too much? Hell no. I grew up with a lot of tech as well. I’ve had a computer since I was 5. Did I have anything resembling what they have at their fingertips? no, and if I had, I have a feeling I would have been able to learn even more. I hope that I can continue to supply these tools to my kids as they become available to us.

    YMMV ;)

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