My three year old daughter, Neta, is a bright kid. She can write her name, do simple math, and trace the entire ABCs.
She has also been using an iPad since she was 18 months, knows how to pick her favorite games, watch videos, and if it was not for me changing my password often, I am sure she would figure out how to make a purchase on iTunes! But is there a correlation between her being intelligent, tech-savvy and familiar with an iPad? My personal opinion is yes.
We’ve all witnessed the impressive nonchalant way in which a one or two-year-old scrolls through a book on their NOOK or expertly finds their favorite game app on mom’s iPhone. It seems to come so easy to them — so intuitively. Navigating these devices certainly seems second-nature to tots and even young babies under 12 months of age! But what does all this new technology really mean when it comes to child development? Is electronic media making smarter kids?
Some experts feel it’s just too soon to tell. Many of these devices have only become available in the past few years, and few studies have been conducted related to the subject. Other experts are quick to point out the benefits of the new devices and technology, which have become available to young families. I’ve included some of these benefits for you. I like to call them the “Three A’s” of children’s digital media:
- Accessibility: With mobile and tablet devices, many families and children have the ability to access educational content anytime and any place. Sure, there are always teachable moments that we as parents can find when standing in line at the grocery checkout or waiting for a table at a restaurant. But with electronic media and devices, there’s always an opportunity to present important basic building blocks to your child whether you’re out and about or relaxing at home. There are apps for almost anything you can imagine – from teaching numbers and colors to inspiring creativity and imagination.
- Autonomy: A vital part of child development in the toddler years is when children begin to express their independence and individuality. Technology allows children as young as one to choose between games that their parents have downloaded, as well as engage with educational content all on their own without the intervention of a caretaker or sibling. They can hold the devices themselves and touch the screen to get a reaction, or select other options. When children are given the opportunity to make simple choices it aids in their confidence and their decision-making abilities.
- Accountability: A parents’ duty is to be accountable for everything their child is exposed to in digital media. The best thing about electronic media and today’s technology is that it allows parents to control the content like never before. Moms and dads can elect to expose their children only to relevant, age-appropriate and educational content. Through apps, games, books, connected devices and more – everything is fully in the hands of a parent’s individual preferences and needs.
The “evidence” of learning through digital media is really found in each child’s personal experience and in his or her family’s home. It is unique and different for everyone. I can say that in my home, both of my daughters have been able to learn new concepts through our tablets and smartphones. My eldest daughter, for instance, had some difficulty distinguishing between individual letters when she first learned the alphabet. An ABCs app really helped her visualize the differences and hear the sounds.
The jury may still be out on whether or not electronic media is making kids smarter, but I believe it empowers parents with yet another tool to introduce their children to new ideas and also to reinforce those principles that are presented during playtime, at preschool and everywhere else.
About Sharon Rechter
Executive Vice President, Business Development and Marketing, BabyFirst
Sharon Rechter, along with business partner, Guy Oranim, conceptualized and co-founded BabyFirst, which is a global TV channel for tots. In her role as executive vice president, she leads the business development and marketing activities for the company – with a clear passion to bring quality, new educational programming to families of babies and toddlers.
Rechter has a broad background in television programming and recently served as the vice president and head of operations for The Israeli Network (the Israeli television channel in the U.S.). She was responsible for the general management of the network, and focused on areas including business development, advertising and subscriptions. Before entering the television broadcast industry, Rechter headed the strategic planning department at GNS Advertising in Israel where she was responsible for developing strategic plans for a variety of lifestyle brands.