Do smart devices make smart children?


I grew up with Ladybird books. They looked pretty old-fashioned when I was reading them and they seem to belong to a bygone age in the era of iPads and e-books.

These days, with the toddler acknowledged as the family's tablet expert, children often learn to navigate the internet before they learn to read.

But are smart screens making our children smarter or simply creating a new generation of "square eyes"?

In the US most young children have access to a touch-screen device and, according to Daniel Anderson, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, using these devices could be more addictive than watching television.

A young child will look away from a TV screen about 150 times an hour, but a well-designed iPad app is more engaging because the child is touching the screen to generate actions.

Read the whole article, it's fascinating, especially this bit.

"Really young children look at a real book and think that it is electronic. They try to swipe it and think it is broken when nothing happens," said Dr Levine.

When I went to visit my godson on Monday (he's 3 next month) he was busy doing jigsaws on his mums iphone, and damned good at them he was too.

Nope, no fear of that here; the boys both have an obsession with books which we value pretty highly. The flip side is that they're both growing up surrounded by technology; Olly has his own tablet, dsi, camera and ipod touch (although all are very limited). I think it's about balancing both sides; kids need to relax their brains before bedtime in particular and they can't do that with technology. Before bed tonight Olly and I read all of Fantastic Mr Fox, we read every night and with George he brings books to me throughout the day when he fancies a story. 

As for touch-screen technology  it's an important skill for them to learn; essentially it's going to be a huge part of how they communicate, work and live in years to come, so it's bound to be more present than it ever has been before.