Friday, June 8, 2012

Angry Birds & other iStuff

I have a smart phone. I have a smart phone that isn't quite smart enough to require internet service. I just can not justify the expense. I've read articles about all sorts of crazy apps from games like Angry Birds to an app that translates your baby's cry so you know what they need.

Playing Angry Birds on the iPad - Photo Credit: randomcuriosityAngry Birds on the iPad

Ah yes, Angry Birds. It is quite the pop culture trendy game, isn't it? I had never seen it in person until a recent vacation with friends. I found myself coaching a toddler on the angle of his shot and even <gasp> touched the screen!

Sasha never did play while we were there. There were kids and tons of toys, she never even noticed the Kindle! When we came home, we had a friend come stay with us for a week. She brought an i-something-or-other with her. Before long, my husband and the Sasha were taking turns playing Angry Birds. Sasha was hooked!

I've heard of apps that help our children learn and I've heard it said that these things (even Angry Birds) help with hand/eye coordination. I'm not really questioning those statements. I just don't think Sasha needs yet another screen in her life. She became fairly obsessed with the game and would cry if she couldn't play it (the thing had to be charged occasionally).

And that leads us to that other trend that is really behind it all... babies on phones (and tablets and readers, etc).

iphone junkie - Photo Credit: JasonTankToddler iPhone Junkie

Since we don't own any fancy app-using phones, I haven't really worried about researching the safety or effect on kids. I did, however, recently stumble upon an article that confirmed my fears:

Amid warnings from some researchers that tablets can cause developmental difficulties and problems including autism or attention deficit disorder, experts at the forum recommended not rushing to judgment.

Wait, what?! They're saying these things can cause autism?!

Its all about balance, though. All things in moderation, right? I'm glad I don't have one of these things in our home yet. It would just be too easy to let Sasha zone out on it too often.

I am not judging parents that let their children play with these things. I have no idea what activities and how much time your children spend with them. I have no idea what other things you do with your kids or what is going on in your lives. I'm just saying... be aware. Don't use electronics (of any kind) as a babysitter. I can't judge, Sasha watches too much television.

Do your kids play apps on your electronics? What apps do they play?

7 comments:

  1. I must ashamedly admit that DS Jude(llmo)watches too much television @ the sitter's ok, and at home as well.... He LOVES electronics... (everything except ACTUAL toys)
    I realized he was getting too much screen time when we were having dinner and my little foodie was not only uninterested, but whining and slapping his tray. Daddy turned on the tv and this fella smiled and happily devoured his dinner.
    Needless to say this summer we will be working on phasing out the screens. (my mortification will be translated into moderation)

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    1. I am also embarrassed by how much time we have screens on in our house. My husband has to have one nonstop!

      Funny, since writing this post, he and I started playing Angry Birds Friends on FB. I think I'm already burned out on it, though.

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  2. Oh for goodness sakes it makes me cross that they issue all this advice that is so unfounded. Common sense says that anything that develops hand-eye coordination, and some cognitive skills is fine in moderation, and that is the point. Most parents will allow any kind of screen time only in moderation, and provided they have other stimulants and activities it's fine. Our kids need to know their way around computers and smartphones, it will be a part of their lives. And I've even heard research to say that autistic people benefit from apps!
    We do use angry Birds, there are lots of Phonics apps that are great for pre-schoolers, and the Toca games are all great. Check out GeekMummy - she regularly reviews apps for children.
    (Actually Mummy)

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  3. My soapbox is the underestimation, underutilization of physical activity in regards to learning. The book Spark by John Ratey discusses the latest in neuro research and how exercise affects the brain and its implications for learning. Many educators, including special education experts, and Maria Montessori have long recognized the connection between physical movement and learning. We realize our children are getting fat, but we cut PE and recess in the name of high stakes testing. The irony is that solution is anti-productive. More time in the classroom does not equal higher test scores.

    TV, the computer, the phone, seem to be the antithesis of physical activity, but they don't have to be. I see my children watch TV and absorb narratives that are way beyond what you assume they could understand. A picture book cannot transmit as complicated of a narrative at such a young age. At least my young ones won't sit as long to listen to one though we do read a ton of picture books as well.

    In the book the Talent Code, Daniel Coyle talks about deliberate practice. How rapid, focused practice that points out failures, and provides immediate feedback allows the brain to more efficiently learn skills. Computers provide a great venue to promote deliberate practice.

    So my kids spend time with screens, but it is interspersed with bouts of physical activity. I keep them away from advertisements because those are not messages I want ingrained in their brain.

    I've spent a lot of time thinking about this and I may be biased. I write mobile kids apps and want to justify my actions?

    p.s. I thought this article was really poignant on the topic. http://mindsofkids.blogspot.com/2012/05/zombie-apocalypse-rocknroll.html

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    Replies
    1. That article is great! And I think it is great that you have given it a lot of thought. I definitely see that apps can be beneficial, but I think it best that parents put some thought into it - and into setting limits. Physical activity truly is so very important. We can't keep our children cooped up all the time and expect them to be healthy, mentally or physically. Here is an awesome article on getting children back into nature: Nature - The Ultimate Healer for Children

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    2. Love that article. Last Child in the Woods is probably my favorite parenting book. My kids are always running around barefoot. Other parents give me weird looks while trying to keep their children from taking over their shoes too. :)

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    3. I prefer nudity and bare feet as much as possible, for me and my children! My toddler gets away with it a lot more than I do! lol I've definitely been given weird looks and been asked why by several people.

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