Are Smart Devices a Smart Decision?

BBC News writer, Jane Wakefield, discusses children's use of smart devices in her online article.

As most children in the United States have access or possession of a smart device, the question bears some weight. Are we hurting or helping our youth- the future of tomorrow? Jane Wakefield of BBC News debates this in her article, “Do Smart Devices Make Smart Kids?”.

“Half of all US 10-year-olds read poorly, according to Dr Michael Levine, executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, which was set up to research how digital media impact on learning. One of the center’s studies, using an iPod Touch, found that the vocabulary of 13 five-year-olds improved by an average of 27% after using an educational app called Martha Speaks. Another study, using a different educational app, had a similar result, with three-year-olds showing a 17% gain.”

Jane continues on to discuss the power of books, or rather, stories. She uses an innovative new app known as MagicTown, a fantasy world built around classic children’s books, as her support.

“The site is trying to bridge the gap between the screen-based digital world and a time when families gathered around to listen to stories. Every time a child listens to a story, they create a new house in the town. They can choose a variety of modes for stories, from basic listening to modules that require them to participate in the story. Even in the web age, stories maintain their power said David Begg, chief executive officer and co-founder. ‘Story is the best medium to teach children. From the village elder importing stories from generation to generation, it is how people learn about emotions, morals and the structure of society,’ he said. In Magic Town the village elder is a lion called Louis who will tell different stories to children daily. The tree at the center of the town grows more leaves the more stories listened to and withers if none are read.”

Applications like MagicTown are only the beginning of smart device education. Researchers are now toying with the idea that through the use of an electronic screen, children may be able to teach themselves how to read, without adult assistance. Read more about this in Jane’s whole article online.

Published July 23, 2012