It started with a Florida family vacation. We had a three-hour flight and I wanted to find a way to amuse my 4-year old son for the plane ride. A couple of months before the trip I got an iPad for my birthday. So I pulled it out and downloaded a couple of movies. On a lark, I thought I would add a few apps.
That was the starting point. My 4-year old can now navigate my iPad. He can slide it to turn it on. He can pull up his apps. He can Skype our former au pair in Latvia. And he can take pictures of himself. If he knew how to spell words other than his name, I’m sure he would be sending emails.
According to Common Sense Media, the average age for first -time use for kids who have access to an iPod, iPad or similar device is 3 ½ years old.
A recent study by The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop entitled, “iLearn II: An Analysis of the Education Category of Apple’s App Store” found an explosion of new apps targeting the toddler/preschool age. http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/Reports-33.html
Among the findings:
-Over 80% of the top selling paid apps in the Education category of the iTunes store target children
-In 2009, almost half (47%) of the top selling apps targeted preschool or elementary aged children. That number has increased to almost three-quarters (72%.)
-The percentage of apps for children has risen in every category, accompanied by a decrease in apps for adults.
“While television remains a critical platform for reaching children under age 8, the kids media environment is quickly going mobile, said Dr. Michael H. Levine, Executive Director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center.
That’s certainly true in our family. My son’s not really into television. He’s all about the apps, which he calls “games.”
As we enter this brave new world, with young children and toddlers merrily surfing their way around an iPad, there is now a push to create new standards for those apps labeled “educational.” Currently there are no voluntary or regulatory standards.
The study recommends developing a system for parents to separate the good from the bad. What is truly educational, what’s the proven impact of the app and is it age appropriate.
I’ve only glanced at the apps I’ve downloaded for my son – going with the “well that one looks interesting.” There are customer ratings, but maybe there should be educational ratings as well.
What do you think?