From a very early age, my son has been exposed to smartphone apps and technology. This was never a pre-determined, parental technique we had in mind before he was born, but more a reaction to some of the sleepless, desperate situations we found ourselves in the early throws of parenthood.
As a tiny baby, we found that some of the basic visual-stimulus apps would help focus him and elicit positive reactions. Black and white imagery, music and moving shapes which we played through our phones often calmed him during particularly grizzly bouts of colic or when he was upset.
As time progressed, letter and number apps became a fascination of his – and really aided his development. In fact, he has developed a very advanced understanding of letters and figures for his age. By 20 months, he could count to 20, recite the alphabet confidently and also spell some 3 letter words.
We supplemented this learning curve with flash cards and foam bath letters and he responded very well. Of course, we encouraged him to play with other toys/games and like most other 2 year old boys he loves getting into mischief, playing with cars, football and reading – but learning figures largely became his obsession.
Of course, I appreciate that smartphone ‘educational’ tools are certainly not for everyone (every child), but my son thoroughly enjoys his time with these apps. Indeed, they have also assisted in the development of some fine motor skills and comprehension/problem-solving and wider educational development.
Also, if I need a little time to put the kettle on, prepare a meal or put the washing out then this most definitely does the trick for us too. It is certainly not a ‘baby-sitting’ tool, nor is it based around curriculum education, but it is meant to be fun – so if your child enjoys it, then let them play!
May I just add that the CBeebies free apps are my recommendations for toddlers. Lots of educational games and story time. But please ensure that you set any parental controls first to ensure mature content cannot be accessed (particularly if using YouTube or other apps which access wider internet sites).
The debate about children’s exposure to technology will, no doubt, rumble on into the future, with each new app, device and technological advancement. My experience is purely subjective to me (and Luca) but, used responsibly, I believe that smartphone technology is an invaluable parental tool.