Shedding the parent guilt: 7 ways to feel good about letting your child play with your tablet

You know the scene; your child is on the living room floor, face only inches away from the tablet, scrolling through apps and you can’t help but think, “Should I be worried?”

Letting your child play on your tablet shouldn’t be the cause of guilt or anxiety. There’s an abundance of great content available through apps that can be beneficial to preschoolers.

Here are 7 ways you can make sure your child is getting the most out of digital play making you feel a little more comfortable handing over the tablet.

1.   Active versus Passive screen time

Although watching tons of fun youtube videos might keep your child occupied, screen time that has your child thinking and reacting to situations provides a more engaging learning experience. Encouraging your child to play apps that are actively engaging allows them the opportunity to deeply learn new content and skills.

2.   Combine Physical and Digital Play

Try to combine digital and physical play to get the best of both worlds. One way to do this is with tangible technology, where the toys interact with the tablet engaging multiple senses (Tiggly, Osmo, Ozobot, Dash and Dot, and Sphero — are all great options). Other ideas are to take what’s on the tablet game and apply it to real life. For example, if your child is playing a counting game that utilizes a number line strategy, like Tiggly Addventure, encourage them to count while they jump steps. Have your child guess how many jumps it would take to get from point A to point B, then try it out.

3.   Balance out playing to weaknesses and strengths

We often get caught up in the apps that will help our kids improve a skill set; like teaching the alphabet when they are struggling to learn their letters. But don’t forget that there’s great learning opportunities for kids when they play to their strengths; this includes mastering and refining skills, as well as really diving in and understanding content. It’s always good to have a variety that allows for great improvement, as well as fine-tuning.

4.   Be Creative

The greatest artists, authors, and musicians were all kids banging on pianos, scribbling on napkins, and acting out stories. Today’s kids have a unique opportunity to channel creativity by taking advantage of apps that are open ended and tap into the imagination. These apps can be storytelling based like Tiggly Stamp or music centered like Mini Piano. Most creative apps also provide an option to share creations – which always make grandparents happy.

5.   Parent Directed Research

Dust off that magnifying glass and channel your undercover persona of Investigator. Take the opportunity to read reviews, visit the company’s website, and scan what else the app developers have produced. Many companies focused on the “kid experience” have child development experts creating the content. App companies known for having a team of kid experts on staff include Tiggly, PBS Kids, Lumikids, and National Geographic Kids.

6. Connect with your child’s teacher

One of the easiest ways to get good app advice is from your child’s teacher. If there are tablets in your child’s school, the teacher will have a whole list of “approved” in class apps that your child probably already loves to play. The best part is the apps align with the class curriculum and you get to see, first hand, what your child is learning in school.

7. Have a combination of both education and entertainment

It’s very easy to only want to provide our kids with a rich learning experience, but not every app needs to be “educational”. There is great benefit in fun and entertaining apps. Take for example an app like Cut the Rope, a fun game that enhances strategy development. But truth be told, kid apps aren’t just child’s play. We all secretly love playing some of those great apps that allow us to get lost in our imagination. Take the opportunity to relax from your busy day to play together. Your child will enjoy the quality time with you while also improving their collaboration skills through negotiating and team problem solving. A great app to play together is Tiggly Chef – share your counting rods and solve Chef’s recipes as a team.

So don’t fret, screen time can be a guilt free experience for you as a parent. But most importantly, it can open doors to engaging new content that can have an amazing impact on your budding explorer. Happy Play Time!

Raising Super Hereos — A can do attitude, with “sky as the limit” beliefs

Gender lines are not walls, they are meant to be crossed.

John Marcotte’s TED talk examines gender norms for kids in today’s pop culture. He specifically looks at girls and the feeling of empowerment that they receive from super heroes. He also addresses the importance of boys learning empathy by experiencing media and toys that are directed at girls. Marcotte’s main point is that labels are truly limiting the potential of future generations, for both boys and girls.

Let’s all do a super hero stance.

Play = learning

You can not play without learning. 
The skills children learn during play are imperative to future success. 

Play = learningOne of the greatest issues our children face is the loss of recess and free play during their early years. Despite the vast amounts of evidence on the contribution of play in childhood and the impact it has on learning and development, we often put the notion of play as less important compared to learning content like literacy or math. Revolutionaries like Piaget and Montessori and Singer have shown time and time again that when play is nourished, children thrive.

Play allows children the opportunity to explore, experiment, create, and compromise. Play gives children the space to socialize, self-reflect, and empathize. Play is our basis of understanding for our later academic success, careers, and relationships. Play is where it begins; it’s where children grow and learn some of the most important lessons in life.

How do you encourage play?

Comic Con & Sesame Street – a beautiful mash-up

Sesame Street goes to San Diego Comic Con 2014! Featuring Eric Jacobson (Grover & Bert), Joey Mazzarino (Murray), David Rudman (Cookie Monster) and hosted by Zachary Levi!

One of the many things I loved about the panel was the kid questions. At the 10:00 mark, two kids (approx 6-7 years old) ask a pretty logical question, “How do Grover books on my iPad, how does it sound exactly like Grover?”

Nice question kid! How do those characters get on the device and sound so real?!

At first, the panel jokes that it’s magic and that Grover lives inside, but they quickly tell the kids that it was all done in-studio and the voice recording is the real Grover.

What we can learn:
1) Kids don’t take things at face-value, they want to know the whys and hows of the world around them, including apps and games (for example how character voices, like Grover’s make it into the storybooks on their handheld devices).

2) Even though the kids are on the older side for Sesame’s target audience (the kids are already interested in more mature content – Star Wars), they are still engaged with Sesame’s key characters and content through digital devices.

Now for your viewing pleasure… the Sesame Street panel.
Side note: during the panel the gang talks about a YouTube video, called Sunny Day – you can find that below.

At this very moment, what’s your favorite Sesame Street video?