The latest iDevices from Apple offer touch-screen controls so simple and intuitive a child could use them. In fact, young children are a growing user group for the groundbreaking gadgets.
The rising trend of iPhones and iPads in the hands of the car-seat set has received a lot of attention lately – even finding its way into the media spotlight. A recent USA Today article ( “Tiny fingers itch for iPhones”) introduced the term “iTots”, defining them as “one-, 2- and 3- year-olds who know their way around an iPhone or an iPad better than you do.”
And where there’s an audience, there’s an app (or in this case, thousands of them). One recent example: “MiX’Em”, a mobile application that aspires to transform iPhones, iPods and iPads into educational tools. Developed by MONSTERS Unlimited, “MiX’Em” incorporates four games intended to engage and educate children while also entertaining adults. Tech New Master
“As a parent, my goal in developing ‘MiX’Em’ was to create a learning tool that parents and children could play together and both enjoy,” said Patrick Jebber, the MONSTERS Unlimited game designer behind the new application. “My hope is kids will be excited to learn with this app.”
“MiX’Em” also features artwork designed to stir nostalgia in adults. “The art was inspired by the mix-and-match flipbooks I remember from when I was a kid,” Jebber said. “We’ve taken that style and mixed it with sound and interactive elements to really bring the experience to life for today’s kids. I think parents will appreciate that.”
The melding of old-school charm with modern technology in “MiX’Em” may offer a good transition for older parents having trouble wrapping their brains around the idea of toddlers tapping on computer screens. Younger parents who came of age in the post-Internet world (90s and early 00s) tend to be more apt to see the potential benefits of technology as an educational tool.
Will Finley wrote on his blog The Paradigm Revolution: “What has become increasingly clear to me as I see my daughter slowly master her first computer, is that she’s learning more than words, numbers, music, shapes, and colors. She is getting a half-decade head start (at least) on the majority of her peers in dealing with something that will shape the entirety of her life: technology.”
Like friends, television and video games (and pretty much anything else), tech toys can be either positive or negative influences on children. When exposed to the wrong material or overexposed to the medium, there can certainly be a downside. But with the right educational content and parental supervision, iPhones, iPods and iPads – like LeapFrog Toys before them – become handy and engaging learning tools.