Wednesday, September 28, 2011

iPad and the Young Mind

So I went and bought an iPad on Monday night. We'd been saving for it for a few weeks, and I decided I needed one when I finalized my plans to visit WFC in San Diego next month, and meet up with wonderful writers and author friends like Simon C. Larter, Shannon Whitney Messenger, Carolina Valdez Miller, Sara Ann McClung, and Andrew Smith.

I won't get into the things that are cool about it, or the things that it ought to be able to do, but can't, because those would be long posts all on their own. I will, hopefully briefly, discuss how cool this thing is for kids.

My daughter Madison and I played a game of scrabble on it against each other last night. She has an iPod touch she's had for a while, that she paid for by saving up her allowance, and that allowed us each to play our tiles from our own device, so that we weren't too obviously revealing our letters to each other.

Now, I have to say, in some ways I'm a bit of a Luddite. I don't believe in kids walking around with headphones constantly in their ears, shutting out the world around them, eyes glued to the screen of some device like little LCD versions of The Mirror of Erised, but the potential for interesting educational opportunities with a device like the iPad is off the charts.

The coolest thing about it is how it excites my child. When she came into my room last night (I didn't have time to set it up after buying it on Monday) and saw me installing some apps on it, her eyes lit up, and she bounded onto the bed with me.

My kid never hangs out with me in my room. She's 10. I had the horrible Braves game on the TV, which she would normally never suffer through. But she spent the next few hours hanging out with me, talking to me about the iPad, and showing me cool things like how to organize my apps into folders so I don't have 5 pages of apps. Then we played some games. Like Scrabble, pictured above.

I'm not going to go on about this any longer, but I see a very high cool factor when it comes to technology and young minds. I think if we leverage these devices properly to our children, we can help them focus on the benefits, without turning them into backlit LCD zombies.

What do you guys think? Do your kids have e-readers? Smart Phones? Other tech?

44 comments:

Clarissa Draper said...

My son has his own personal computer and he uses it to read and play games. He's not really into technology and prefers to read paper books. However, it's not because of his parents who are real geeks.

Ashley said...

My oldest son's school gave all the kids in middle school an ipad as part of a test program. They limited the Internet use but put all their textbooks and other learning related apps on it. They can even take tests and do their homework on it. So, instead of lugging home a 20lb backpack, he just carries the ipad. And he loves using it so much, he doesn't complain about his homework.

maine character said...

I want to go to school with Ashley's kid.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I can see how your daughter and any kid into I-Pods would love the I-Pad. It would be awesome if they could carry then in school with their downloaded textbooks if they didn't want to carry the ton of books around. I agree with Ashely on that one.

Maybe you can do a post on how it helps a writer sometime after you've been using it.

Anne Gallagher said...

The Monster doesn't have any technology because her mother is a Luddite, however, I WANT an Ipad. Maybe for Christmas. And maybe, just maybe if she's a good girl for Santa, she'll get her own computer. (finally)

Stephanie M. Lorée said...

I have my Kindle, a DS, and a netbook, which is enough for me right now. I keep pondering a smartphone or tablet, but none are out that do what I want within my price range. So, I wait.

Also, I will be at WFC this year. I met Simon there last year. Would love to meet up some time during the con.

Donna K. Weaver said...

"screen of some device like little LCD versions of The Mirror of Erised"

This is a perfect comparison!

But you're right that there are some wonderful features, especially those that draw us together rather than make us solitary.

Amanda Bonilla said...

I don't think kids should shy away from tech, it's everywhere and it's used daily in their schools. Like you, I don't want my son glued to a TV screen all day, and I'm thankful that he's athletic and likes to be outdoors which really balances his video game usage. ;) I'm all for educational technology. And when it's fun, everyone wins.

Joshua said...

Both kids are too young for those kinds of devices, but The Girl (4) likes to play games on my iPad, and The Boy (2) likes to watch CARS videos. As far as apps go, the few for the kids are too young for your 10-year-old. I downloaded Penultimate ($0.99) which allows you to actually write on the screen. The Girl loves to use that to draw. It's a bit limited in its abilities, but a good buy. Virtuoso is a pretty good (AND FREE) piano app. Then there's always Angry Birds. I need to buy Scrabble, though. Probably tonight.

Michael G-G said...

My oldest (15) goes to a high school for kids with learning differences and challenges. They've found that iPads help this kids in many ways. All the kids at this school have iPads--and to see thier engagement with their school and homework is amazing.

BTW, You are going to have such a good time in San Diego!

Jess said...

"LCD versions of The Mirror of Erised"

Awesome :)

Jonathon Arntson said...

They did the iPad in school thing here too. Last week, they sent like15 students to some technology conference to teach an audience of adults how to use the device. Apparently it was part of the program and I have yet to read the article, as it only mildly interested me.

Perhaps I should be more excited about it.

Em-Musing said...

My two-year-old grandson plays Angry Birds on my daughter's phone. Technology is just out there for anyone who has the $$.

Bryan Russell said...

My kids have dinky cars. Though my four-year-old is becoming obsessed with webkinz. Are interventions allowed for kids that age?

Though iPads are awesome little machines.

Heather Kelly said...

One of my seven-year-old son's close friends at school has Down Syndrome, and she uses the class iPad without issue. I think it is an amazing learning tool for kids in general, and even more so for kids with disabilities.

My oldest son (11) bought an iTouch after a year of saving up, and I am impressed by how responsible he is with it. He showed his grammy how to set up her iPad (NO SMALL TASK), and loves to play chess and other brain games on it. We still do physical board games, and nothing replaces the tactile face to face time, but this electronic world is here to stay.

Liza said...

I won an I-pad...by accident. Long story, but I agree with you. It wasn't something I felt I had to have, but I do believe it will have educational benefits. And, now that I have one, well, try and take it away from me!

Carrie said...

A lot of the kids who are in shows where I work have an iPod Touch or iPad. Two of the actors were playing each other in Scrabble yesterday on their tablet devices. I think kids using iPads, readers and smartphones is cool. I'd like to see it become available to even more kids so that there isn't a technology gap.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Yes, yes, and yes! As you know, I've been advocating/commenting/observing this for some time. (Don't tell my kids you have an iPad, they'll want one too). As you say, the potential is huge, and kids are great - they jump right in and find the way it works for them. It behooves the adults to keep on top of it enough to do it with them, just as you have.

Stephen Tremp said...

Have fun with your new toy! Good chance we'll pick up an iPad this weekend. Kids have DS and use our iMac and PC but that's it for now. We'll get them cell phones one day, just not now.

Jenny S. Morris said...

My 7 year old is tech crazy, but we have to limit his screen time. I think the i-pad has some really cool things that he would love. He is already a really good chess player and anything with strategy is great for him.

Love the father/daughter bonding time!

Elle Strauss said...

Certainly technology has a way of disconnecting us from one another, but when we can find a way to create the opposite effect, that's fantastic. Anything that binds us to our children is a good thing!

Creepy Query Girl said...

awe- that's so sweet! Bonding over technolgoy:) I have ipad envy and I hardly ever want gadgets but ever since I got my iphone the ipad holds lots of appeal. So jealous you're going to be meeting up with all of those fabulous authors!

Michael Offutt said...

I work for the State of Utah and we have a hundred iPads in our adult lending library. The educational apps like proloquo2go are amazing. Plus with the built-in camera you can take pictures of things and make tiles from them so that a kid or adult that cannot speak, can press the tile of what they want "food" "bed" or whatever and it is the exact image of things they are used to. The iPad is more than just a toy for sure. It has blown me away (consequently I own one ayep). I loved your comment on my blog today btw. Chicken blood never occurred to me.

Christina Lee said...

Awww!

Um, were such a geeked out family, it's embarassing. iphones and an ipad and and who uses it most? Well hubz and 7 yo fight for it. They play Monopoly against each other using two of the devises, and son and I play Fruit Ninja a lot!

But we also use Google earth too and other sciencey things! And then put it down and force ourselves to go outside already!!!

J.L. Campbell said...

Wonderful that you and your daughter found common ground around technology. I'm not surprised.

My son used to spend a lot of time on the laptop, but I think he's gotten bored. I got him to read a few books on Kindle, but then the darn thing broke down. :(

Jeffrey Beesler said...

It's so refreshing to hear of the educational advantages to this technology. Most stories I hear these days are of our educational system failing our children, or of how technology is driving wedges between person-to-person communication.

Shades of gray, my friend, shades of gray.

Lindsay said...

I love that so much technology can be geared to help young minds. My 2 year-old goddaughter loves watching cartoons on my laptop. When she's old enough then I'll get some educational programmes downloaded for her, too.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Technology is going to creep into kid's lives whether we like it or not - so I think your approach is great here. Not ignoring the issue but addressing it, equipping the child for a life filled with screens instead of chastising her for it. Sounds like some great bonding time. :)

Angela Brown said...

I'm very pleased to see that you and your daughter were able to have such a wonderful bonding time. Those are the times to cherish. Seeing technology used as a bonding tool doesn't happen often enough.

ali cross said...

I totally agree. We are a very techie family here. We all love our iThings and laptops. BUT we play games together as a family, we "hang out" in virtual worlds (namely Wizard 101) and let me tell you ... we'll play together this way for HOURS, while a board game only lasts of 30 or 60 minutes.

Plus, I get to see my kid in all sorts of situations. Like if someone's being mean to someone else or even to him. Or if someone's being unfair. I get to teach (read: lead) in real time, rather than after the fact IF he even tells me about it.

And another thing ~ I'd totally expect my 11 year old sons to not want people on the game to know its ME their MOM. I tell them they can call me by my avatar's name. But they don't. They totally call me Mom.

Anyway, so. YEAH! Enjoy your iPad!

Cold As Heaven said...

I'm considering buying one too, but haven't decided yet if iPad or Samsung Galaxy would be the most useful. Most important is that I need a proper keyboard to write when I'm out traveling, so maybe I will end up with a new light-weight lap-top >:)

Cold As Heaven

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Yes!!!! Welcome to the awesome world of the iPad. I'm stoked for the generation 3 iPad next year.
The iPad is SO MUCH. It excites me, so I definitely understand how it could excite a child.
You need any tips on some cool apps, let me know!

Lady Gwen said...

LOL, I think it's hilarious that your 10 year old was telling you how to organize your folders! I want an ipad, too. It just seems so convenient to carry around.

I'm repaying your visit to my blog and following you back:)

Anita said...

My kids love technology. They eat it up. They're not scared by it. It's like an automatic to them...like the sun's there, the laptop's there, the iPhone's there. My kids teach me about technology.

Carol Riggs said...

Wow, you are ahead of me tech-wise. My hubbs would LIKE to have more techy stuff, if we had the funds for it. Meanwhile, he drools. LOL

Kristen Pelfrey Faulconer said...

I love this post. I teach technology classes, and the only homework I assign involves reading a novel of choice. I tell parents to unplug their kids. But interactive stuff with parental units is very cool. I wish more of my kids had parents like you.

Hannah Kincade said...

I think it's fantastic. Growing up in a world full of technological advancement is amazing and as long as there's a balance, I'm all for it.

Joe said...

I'm with Hannah. Balance is the key - not easy to do with such cool apps out there. My 9 year old and my wife got one for me last father's day and I have to steal it away from them to get time on it. Max knows more about how to organize it and find cool games than I ever will. I sense a trend...

Jessica Silva said...

So. I don't have kids. BUT I HAVE OPINIONS about kids and technology. I think there's a big difference between letting a kid play on the computer and letting a kid play on the internet. I did a lot of stupid stuff when I was 12 and navigating the internet without my mom being too aware. As long as you're monitoring your kid (but not killing their fun--no COOL parent does that) I think it's fantastic. Learning, even if it's just how to type, is what kids SHOULD be doing.

Ted Cross said...

Darn, you get to meet Simon and I don't!

My sons have Nooks and my wife has a Kindle. Bad idea, as she keeps buying ebooks at prices she would never have paid for real books.

LTM said...

I can't BELIEVE you have an iPad... I'm literally the LAST person on the planet who doesn't have one. :p

And oh, yeah. Catherine wants a Touch so bad, too... Now I'm looking at how to spend $1K in one fell swoop~ ;p j/k

Susan Kane said...

My six-year old gr-daughter informed me that she was going to get an iPod or an iPad for her birthday. Then she looked for my reaction. I told her that even I didn't have either of those things. Maybe when she is ten, I told her.
The iPad has so many apps that are appropriate for kids, I am finding. Glad you could share them during a rotten ball game.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

My husband has an iPad for work that his company bought him (yay, now he doesn't have to kick me off the computer to check work related websites in the evening).

I swear the kids use it more than him. And it's great on trips, except for one problem. One iPad. Three kids. You do the (whiny) math. ;)

Sherrie Petersen said...

Omigosh, this is awesome. I've had an iPad for almost a year and I had no idea I could create folders! Now I need to figure out how :P