Are tablets good for children?

dad-with-daughter-tablet

The Guardians of Ancora blog recently highlighted a BBC article

There’s no question that tablet computers have swept into children’s lives in the past couple of years. But is this good, bad or neutral?

‘Parents,’ says the BBC iWonder website, ‘sometimes worry that time spent playing on screen devices may be stunting important development in areas such as social and communication skills. However, as devices and technology have evolved to be more intuitive and creative, they have opened up a world of possibilities for children who previously may have been frustrated by the constraints of their abilities and their environment.’

To help you think through this question for yourself, Professor Lydia Plowman and teaching fellow Juliet Hancock, from the University of Edinburgh, have put together a helpful guide.

Digital Children: Tablets & Smartphones

Dave Roberts  kicked off the Digital Children conference with a session on Tablets & Smartphones:

Most people in the room have tablets and smartphones.  So want to examine how this disrupts the way we connect and work with children.  There are Christians innovating in this area, e.g. Youversion doing translations for Bibles, prayer list apps.  But how are we as a community of believers stepping back and saying what will this mean for our interaction with children.

As technology changes, the medium of delivery changes and that is why we gather today.

The facts from the UK

  • 92% own a mobile phone
  • 6/10 in the UK own a smartphone
  • 58% of smart phone owners are female
  • 51% now access the internet via their phone, 32% every day (although some say 37%)
  • Average UK household 4-6 screens
  • 13% are table users.
  • Older audience for tablets but this may relate to affordability and so this will drop downwards as market penetration deepens and price drops.
  • Anecdotal evidence and high sales of child apps suggest heavy usage of tablets among the very young.

7th June – report on tablets use in primary school in Swansea seeing a reading leap from 9 year to 13 years.  Teachers said they had never seen such a dramatic turnaround.  Touch screen is important – the more real and familiar it feels from a 2 year old perspective.

5 Reasons Why This Matters

Portability: it had to be book size, something easy to carry around, iPads aren’t small enough which is why iPad Minis are taking off.

Accessibility: increasing internet access, mobile access – e.g. finding map directions when lost.

Connectivity: finding information and communicating from wherever we are.

Affordability: this will be addressed as it penetrates further into society and basic materials for a tablet can be made for $25.

Ubiquity: when there comes a point at which saturation happens, the momentum of use increases hugely.

The learning experience

  • The auditory child (listening, watching, discovering)
  • The tactile/kinaesthetic child (puzzle-games-discovery via tablet)
  • The visual child (flannel graph – video – tablet)
  • The analytical child (facts)
  • The innovative learner (interaction)
  • The common sense learner (solutions and action)
  • The dynamic learner (synthesize from different sources)
  • Technology multiples the possibilities for children

The new world of Christian formation

Discipleship is a multi-input process – some of which will never change.  But books and narrative have always had a role.  Tablets are the new books and print.

Worship or Idolatry

  • Creativity is a creation attribute
  • There is no sacred, secular.  Only worship or idolatry.
  • Can be social innovation, compassion, teaching, enhanced community.  Can be pornography, bullying and more.
  • But we want to learn more about the good.