Many people have a mobile device, and many let their children use apps on these devices. There's nothing wrong with that, but establishing some good habits around digital media use is a good idea. While an app will NOT teach your child to read, interaction between yourself, your child, and your iPad can certainly help your child develop the skills they need in order to learn to read. An iPad, iPhone or other device is not the best choice for a bedtime story either, as some studies are suggesting that the blue light from computer devices of any sort before bedtime can disrupt sleep patterns (and not just for kids, for adults, too!) So when is the best time, and how should we be sharing apps with young children? And how do you find the best ones to share? Look for some hands-on classes at your library this winter and spring, but until then, here are a few tips to get you started!
First off, spend time with your young child as they play with apps. Just like with TV, use of tablets or phones should be limited for children under 5, and children under 2 should have very little exposure. Talk about what is happening in the app, what you can do, read together, play together, ask questions and talk with your child.
How do you find the best apps to use? And how do you decide which ones are worth the money? There are lots of free apps, but as with anything free, quality is often an issue. I like to follow The iMums on Twittter and Facebook to get deals on apps and also free ones. There's also Digital Storytime , which has a bank of reviews, sortable by age, price, quality, and more. A nice list of resources can be found here.
I've been testing some apps, and I do very brief reviews on my Pinterest board called, you guessed it, Apps for Kids. Mostly I look for apps that are low-cost or free, educational yet fun, book-related, or ones that can help develop early literacy skills such as drawing, storytelling, and vocabulary. I especially like apps that take good children's books and make them even more fun, such as Good Night Moon, The Three Little Pigs, or the Sandra Boynton books. So take a look at some of these resources, and have fun exploring the digital early literacy world with your young child!
Angela Reynolds, Head of Youth Services