Screen time and Children: Addictive or Educational?

An article in the April issue of The Atlantic Magazine explored children’s growing relationship with digital technology and discussed the impact mobile devices such as iPads and iPhones have on their development.

As digital technologies advance and become increasingly ubiquitous in the lives of children, they are spending more time with screens and devices at younger ages.  In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its policy on young children and media, stating that things had changed significantly in terms of technology.  The new policy replaced its statements from 1999, which discouraged children younger than 2 to watch television because of its impact on brain development stating that this age group required direct interactions with parents and care givers. By 2006, 90 percent of parents said their child younger than 2 consumed some form of electronic media.

Even though technology use has grown, parents are still on the fence about whether interactive stories and games for children are educational or should be saved just for leisure time. The author,Hanna Rosin, mother of three, asked a fellow parent about the types of games she allowed her child to play. To her surprise, the parent did not allow her children to play all that often. “’I don’t allow it. We have a rule of no screen time during the week, unless it’s clearly educational’,” the mother said. This response was common.

“Technological competence and sophistication have not, for parents, translated into comfort and ease. They have merely created yet another sphere that parents feel they have to navigate in exactly the right way. On the one hand, parents want their children to swim expertly in the digital stream that they will have to navigate all their lives; on the other hand, they fear that too much digital media, too early, will sink them.”

Touch technology has similar results to shaking a rattle or playing with blocks; a child experiences a tactile interaction and something happens as a result. At a young age children become capable of enactive representation, according to psychologist, Jerome Bruner. A child’s hands are a natural extension of their thoughts. Tough technology has become a way to pacify, mollify and entertain children, providing some quiet time for adults.

The article suggests that in order to determine whether a piece of technology is suitable for children, parents should consider three things: context, appropriate content, and the individual child. Parents should also evaluate their attitudes toward media because of its tendency to pass on to their children.

Preschool app developer, Cupcake Digital  strives to create both educational and entertaining apps for children. By using characters from popular Emmy® award-winning Nick Jr. show, “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy!®”, the company combines educational lessons with fun, interactive stories and kids games. Cupcake Digital incorporates Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in order to teach toddlers and young children how to read, write, count, think critically, and develop fine motor functions. Each app provides opportunities for interaction with parents. The Grownup’s Corner provides questions and games to enable parents and their children to interact and discuss the games and stories. The company also works with educators to develop free downloadable activities, based on these deluxe story experiences, found on to further encourage practice of CCSS skills.

“Cupcake Digital is mindful of the role apps play in the lives of today’s digital generation,” said Cupcake Digital Chairman Brad Powers.  “Our apps create opportunities for kids and parents to benefit from their experience with technology, which is  why we have developed such hallmarks as the Grown Up’s Corner and Common Core Corner and include them in many of our apps.”

Check out this video featuring the kids of  Cupcake Digital and their views on the company’s educational storybook apps.