As adults, many of us live in a gadget-filled world. But how much of that is good for children under 6? In the Circle of Moms communities, moms weigh in on whether iPads and other tablet computers are good learning tools, or just another electronic babysitter. If you're not sure whether to introduce your child to the world of games and apps available on tablet computers and smart phones, read on. Here are the high points of both sides of the debate.
Moms Who Say Yes To Pre-K Tablets
1. Technology Is The Future
Moms like Kelly B vigorously embrace the new technology of tablet devices to help prepare kids for school and the rest of their lives. She lets her preschool children use both her iPod and iPad: "schools allow children to use technology from the day they start school... It's another great way of keeping the child interested in learning.......fun learning, and they don't think they are learning, but it's amazing what they learn and where they learn it from.......I say stop being so old school....technology is our future and it is especially our children's future!"
2. A Learning Method That Works
One of the reasons that tablet computers such as the iPad have become so popular as a learning device is that parents and teachers are getting results. Member Charlie P. considers the iPad an invaluable tool for education: "children love technology... if it gets them interested and it works then great..." Charlie goes on to say how she works with a 5-year-old who is autistic, and uses an iPad as part of his therapy. The apps have "worked wonders" for his development, so she asks: "why can we not use the same method for children as a simple and basic educational tool?"
3. A Great Supplement to Books
Circle of Moms member Jenn H. believes the tablet adds a lot to her daughter's learning without taking away the importance of more traditional tools. Her 5-year-old daughter loves the iPad — but also loves books: "We work to find a balance between technology and traditional learning tools."
4. Improvement in Fine Motor Skills And More
If you're wondering what preschool kids can actually learn from an iPad, Nikki P. shares that her 3- and 4-year-old kids are already gaining important skills using her iPad: "there is a Dora app that the school uses because it helps not only learn ABC's but fine motor skills."
A Circle of Moms member named Jersey also raves about the progress her 3-year-old has made using a tablet computer: "it's a great tool for her to be able to learn her letters... it also helps her to write her letters as well as her numbers...and she is learning new words with the applications that I have purchased for her... My daughter is even learning new languages on her iPad 2."
(For a list of apps that are great for preschoolers, see: 10 Educational Apps for Preschoolers.)
Moms Against Tablets For Preschoolers
1. Not Worth The Money
Not everyone wants to see an iPad in the hands of every child. There has been some controversy over schools spending money to purchase a tablet computer for each child as a necessity to start kindergarten. The issue of cost is valid at home too, especially for families who are already struggling. Moms like Karen B. have strongly oppose this kind of spending: "I think this is ridiculous. Kids can learn just fine without 'toys' such as this and the money could be put to much better use."
Heather L. says the likelihood that preschoolers and/or kindergarteners will damage an iPad makes having their "own" not worth it: "How many of them will end up lost or broken? How many 5-year-olds lose their own... jackets? We really want to trust them with a gadget worth hundreds of dollars?"
A mom named Ester echoes these concerns over the cost effectiveness of iPads for small children, which she considers "luxury items." Although she has very positive things to say about their educational value, specifically for preschoolers, she feels they are far from a necessity: "I think requiring parents to [shell] out $500 or more for an iPad for a small child who is likely to break it and [who] could learn everything the iPad can help them learn through other means, is ridiculous and I would be very opposed to it."
2. Posture And Vision Concerns
Staring at a computer screen, especially for hours at a time, affects your body no matter how old you are. A member named Vera feels that this kind of strain on a preschooler's eyes can be too much: "children watching a screen . . . over long periods of time causes the muscles in their eyes to become tired, even more so if they must wear glasses."
A member named MeMe brings up some very good points on both sides of the debate as to whether we should let our children become dependent on computers in general. As a mom who spends most of her day on the computer, she knows how bad it is for her physically: "It is also very tramautizing to your body." In addition to eye strain, she points out that prolonged use of a tablet with poor posture can cause problems with the back, the wrists and neck.
3. Kids Need The Basics
During the preschool years, some moms feel that the focus for learning should be on basic reading, writing, and math, in books and written by hand, with pencil and paper. They feel that we cannot afford to lose these basic skills in the next generation. As Shawnn L. says, technology does fail, and when it does, we need a foundation: "I'm not a doomsday scarebringer, but I have been in situations where the technology failed, not just for a few minutes, but days, and the tried and true pencil and paper had to come out of storage and be dusted off. And to be quite honest, I was appalled at the number of adults who could not do basic math, did not have at least minimally readable handwriting, and who were completely lost without having a computer to rely on."
4. Electronic Addiction
Moms such as Kelina G. have concerns about the future for kids who get hooked on technology. She feels the importance of human interaction will be lost: "I think that the temptation to sit there and look at your technology all day rather than really learn from firsthand experience what the world around you is all about would be too strong. We'd be breeding Internet addicted kids. Technology addicted kids."
Shawwn L. also feels that kids are getting "hooked" too soon: "There are plenty of 'real life' interactions that you can use to accomplish the same thing, without making your kid feel like being hooked to a (IMO, stupid) technological device! The sooner you 'indoctrinate' them into the world of cell phones, iPads, or whatever, they think they 'can't live without them', when, in fact, everyone can live without being 24/7 connected."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.