Apps & toddlers: At what age is it ok for your child to use mobile applications?

Lovely child

With the recent boom of kids apps for children of every age you may ask yourself a question: what is an appropriate age for my child to start using apps? Some parents might feel uncomfortable with the idea of their toddler using technological devices and applications as some think it is too early for them to enter technological world or they worry about negative effects on their child’s development.

Are digital devices harmful for small children?

While experts argue on how old the kids should be to be exposed to screen time, there are no reliable studies on the negative effects of digital devices on small children . Dr Kaufman, a founder and director of the BabyLab at Swinburne states:

“Research into the negative effects of television has been lumped onto tablets, Being on a touch-screen device is more interactive. It’s not right to assume that sitting in front of the TV has the same effects on children as using tablets.”

 Indeed, on the contrary to television, digital devices and applications encourage kids to make decisions. Dr. Kaufman has conducted a study during which he examined the attention and problem-solving capabilities of 46 children after they used an iPad. The initial findings have shown that for some children, touchscreens appear to motivate and enhance learning. Moreover, results also indicate that creative activities on the iPad, such as painting didn’t seem to adversely affect children’s behavior or attention in the short term.

 

 baby looks at mobile phone with interest

When should I let my child start using apps?

Digital devices such as smartphones, iPhones etc. are extremely easy to use for small babies thanks to touch-screen technology.  You can find thousand of video on YouTube with toddlers using them in an intuitive way. Common Sense Media reports that 38% of babies under the age of 2 are using tablets or smartphones. While letting your toddler use apps you have an opportunity to control their screen time. However, it is essential to use apps as an opportunity to spend quality time with child rather than as a form of ”babysitter”, leaving the baby with a device without any supervision. How to find out if a particular app is really benefitial for your child? ”What’s really important is to observe your child during and after they have been using a specific app and ask was anything gained out of this?” advises Dr Kaufman.

Other studies also provide information on the benefits of apps for children of every age. Dr. Rosie Flewitt, of the Institute of Education at the University of London has published research on how iPads can support literacy in nursery, early primary and special education. In her paper on early literacy she states: ”In another recent study, we investigated the potential of touch-screen technologies for early literacy. We lent iPads to a Children’s Centre nursery (3-4 year olds), a primary school Reception class (4-5 year olds) and a Special School (7-18 year olds) and observed their use. The iPads were incorporated into practice differently within the three settings, reflecting their differing pedagogic approaches. Although staff had some concerns about the role of digital media in young children’s lives, they found that well planned activities increased children’s motivation and concentration, and offered rich opportunities for early literacy, including collaborative interaction, independent learning, communication and creative work. Furthermore, staff welcomed the opportunities the iPad afforded to make links between children’s home and school lives and to prepare children for a future where they would need high levels of technological competence and skills. ”

What kind of apps can you find for toddlers?

The majority of kids apps are aimed at preschoolers, therefore you will find hundreds of apps for kids under 4. Most of them are designed not only to provide entertainment, but to support social and language development of kids. Plenty of kids apps for toddlers feature colors, shapes, numbers and letters. You can also get a lot of kids apps developing their manual skills like drawing or musical skills.

 

Thanks for reading and see you next week!

Magdalena| Appetite For Education

P.S. If you are interested in more information on applications or you are looking for one for your child, subscribe to our newsletter to read more interesting articles in the future!

 

 

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