We’re living in a digital age where communication is defined by social media outlets and digital devices. Interestingly, adults aren’t the only ones that gravitate towards digital devices—tablets are quickly becoming the toy of choice for children of all ages. Have you ever seen how easily a child can learn and maneuver an iPad? If not, check out the volumes of YouTube videos that capture children playing with their parents’ iPads and Smartphones. iPad usage is second nature to children and it’s interesting to see how quickly tablet devices are being utilized by young kids, and how readily many parents are encouraging its use. Check out these stats for how tablets are being consumed by children and what this means for the future of digital content consumption.
According to a study by PBS about how children and parents interact with the iPad, 70% of parents allow their children to use their iPad. Parents download an average of eight children-specific apps on their iPad and 40% of parents state that their kids play on their iPad at least once a day. 90% of parents in this study stated that “educational value” was the most important criteria when choosing an app for their children. In light of these statistics, it’s no wonder that PBS released its own app, called PBS Kids Video for iPad. This app is designed to give families “free streaming access to more than 1000 videos from top PBS Kids and PBS Kids Go! series”.
Despite parents’ claim in the PBS study that education is the primary criteria for child-friendly apps, research from Neilson reveals that an overwhelming 77% of children use tablets to download and play games while 55% of parents let their children play with tablets for entertainment purposes while they’re traveling. Furthermore, 41% of parents let their children play with tablets while waiting in restaurants. Evidently, there is dissonance between what parents in the PBS study defined as the optimal use case of tablets by their children and how tablets are actually being used by kids. In support of the PBS study, Neilson also found that 7 out of 12 children (ages 12 and under) in tablet-owning households, use the devices.
Why It’s So Popular
Tablets have an intuitive interface which makes it easy for children to navigate. A child can easily interact and engage with a tablet by touching the screen, even if they can’t fully comprehend what their actions mean. Rose Luckin, a professor of learner-centered design at the University of London found that 5 and 6 year-olds who recorded school activities on tablets and replayed them for parents tended to learn better than children who didn’t use tablets in this way. For optimal use, tablets should generate “talk time” between parents and children (which is crucial for language development), rather than replace it. This means that parents should engage in dialogue with children when their young ones are using tablets. According to experts, problems are formed when tablets replace talk time and diminish interaction between parents and children.
Tablets can be a powerful tool for education and skill development in children and it’s interesting to see how quickly kids can learn and engage with these gadgets. It’s undeniable that children are growing up in a digital world and it’s interesting to consider how fast technology will continue to change and advance as these younger generations grow up with these gadgets. The question becomes – can we keep up?