iPods and Nooks….and apps for kids.

I am a sucker for my Nook and my iPod. I like playing games on them, using my email, reading books, and using the calendar. What is more, they will keep my preschooler busy while we stand in lines, sit in waiting rooms, and are driving.

Some people feel technology shouldn’t be used in teaching. Technology is a fact of life – it will stay with us. The sooner children learn to use a computer, a touch screen, an iPod/iPad or Nook, the better. So many things are available on the Internet and from apps for mobile devices that kids can play and learn all day. What technology shouldn’t be used for is a substitute for interaction. It also shouldn’t be used as a babysitter; although it can be used to keep a child company while essential tasks get done.

In our house, we have an iPod touch, Nook color, and Leapster (in addition to the computers) that our preschooler uses. Even our infant uses the iPod touch (we have a piano app on it that she likes to play to distract her while we are in lines). I have a multitude of learning apps, as well as fun apps, on there for kids. My son likes the “Leapfrog Scout ABC Garden” app and the “Super Why” app from PBS the best. I like “Settler of Catan” and some of the scheduling/finance apps. Our 6 month old likes the piano app.

Most of the free apps for kids are junk. They involve paying for other things within the app or are simply bad. The apps that are books are great too. The Apple app store has a bunch of Dr. Seuss apps (books) that the kids can read, interact with, or have the app read to them. These are great for lines at the grocery store or other short waits when the child doesn’t want to talk with you or play with you. These are also great for a little down time. The Nook color has some of the same books.

Technology teaches our children in ways we cannot. While I know how a volcano works, and can describe it, nothing teaches better than seeing a volcano erupt and talking about why it is happening. This wouldn’t be possible without the Internet. I can show my son plants, and we can talk about them growing, but on various websites he can practice watering plants and the websites show how roots go down and the plant grows up. These are things that can be described, but without technology, cannot be experienced.

I’m not suggesting technology, especially mobile technology, as a substitute. But technology can certain supplement the teaching we do at home. Technology can provide experiences to our children that they wouldn’t otherwise have. With apps and the Internet, my son can build a car, engineer a train, and race on a horse. These are all things he wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. We can go on a dig for dinosaur bones, try and put them together, and see things in space.

Using technology wisely can only help us teach our children and expose them to a variety of new things that they otherwise wouldn’t get to experience.

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