My children, six and four year old boys, get way too much screen time. They watch TV, they play video games, they do puzzles on my computer. I use the video games as rewards and take them away as punishments. I plop the kids in front of our new big-screen TV to hypnotize them while I get work done or make dinner (when I make dinner).
Most days, I don’t feel guilty about my use of screen time. But over the years, through a brand partnership, I’ve collected two expensive hand-held video game players. They are still in their original packaging, never been opened, like precious collectors’ items. I hesitate to give them to my children, these electronic fascinations that so many children their ages have, because deep down, I guess I do feel guilty about all of their video game playing and TV watching.
Bridging the gap, then, are the iPhone apps.
I broke down soon after I got my latest iPhone last fall. I can’t remember the exact instance, but you can imagine – doctor’s office waiting room, restaurant, long car ride…something, anything to quiet the 6-year-old and make him sit still. Because he loves space, I found a video game called Space Miner Blast, which is a simple time-waster. I suppose I can argue that it improves hand-eye coordination or something, but really, it was just a time-killer.
That was the gateway to my new delight in using apps to occupy the kids AND improve their learning at the same time. Once my older son started practicing sight words at school, I found the Sight Words app. It’s a cute, animated sight word drill that plays a little tune if the child reads all the simple words correctly. But if that’s not enough for your kid, who can probably breeze right through them, I recommend ABCMouse.com.
ABCMouse.com has several apps available that provide a mobile version of the preschool-Kindergarten learning system from their website. There is a free book called The Grand Canyon that gives you an idea of the options in the company’s animated books. Kids can have it read to them with or without page-turning pauses, or they can read it themselves. The books are also interactive, with clickable areas that lead to more information about what is included. With bright artwork and clear voiceover, and sometimes even with cute music, ABCMouse.com’s mobile app books (most are $0.99) actually engage the children with that digital allure that regular books don’t have.
If they’re learning, distracting the kids with my iPhone doesn’t make me feel so guilty.
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