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!