Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Bringing Apps to Life

First of all, I want to begin by admitting I let my kids have too much screen time. They're 3- and 5 years old, and they know what Netflix is and that the TV has to be on Input 6 to use the PlayStation. We have multiple Kindles and each of my boys has his own Leapster and/or iXL handheld.

Prickly Dad and I both grew up with a lot of TV (he tells me about doing his homework while watching Godzilla movies) as well as the various other "screens" of the time period (Pong, the many incarnations of Atari, the Commodore 64, followed by all the Nintendos). I've always been a connoisseur of vintage television as well as being fascinated by the capability of computers--and ended up working in the digital media industry before becoming a stay-at-home mom (so my workstation always included at least two computers, a double-monitor, and a TV).

So being a no-screen family was probably never in the cards for us.

Anyhoo, my children's TV-watching habits are a whole 'nother topic...but I have to admit that I actually like some of the Android apps meant for grown-ups, and don't mind my little guys playing. Of course we have Angry Birds and all its incarnations (and even a spin-off, Bad Piggies), but we also like Cut the Rope, Where's My Water?, and now the grocery-packing game Bag It. In my opinion, all these games teach kids not only fine motor skills, but concepts like cause-and-effect ("I have to cut this rope at this time to get the candy to fall into Om Nom's mouth"), simple physics ("I need to pull the Angry Bird down lower in the slingshot to get him to go higher in the air"), or spatial skills ("if I stack these cereal boxes horizontally instead of upright, I can fit more of them in the grocery bag").

Yes, my boys talk and obviously think about these games a lot, but instead of playing on the Kindle for too long a time (which we do not let them do), my little guys take these games into the realm of reality. Yesterday afternoon, to my delight and amazement, Bug and Pie sat on the kitchen floor for almost two hours with the groceries I hadn't had time to put away yet (along with an empty egg carton I happened to have) and played their own grocery-stacking game, experimenting with different ways to balance cans and boxes, learning that heavy items do better on the bottom and lighter ones can balance on top. They practiced sharing, teamwork, and perseverance, and had fun doing it. I really enjoyed watching how their little minds worked (and had the added bonus of being able to get some housework done while they occupied themselves).

It just goes to show that screen time for the little ones isn't all bad, right?

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like time well spent! But whatever happened to the educational games like "States & Capitals"??