This may sound very hypocritical coming from a blogger, but I can’t stand computers. Yes, I’m a 29-year-old anomaly. Smartphones and other gadgets, like e-readers and iPads, give me a headache. I much prefer real life, human-to-human interaction. However, I’m not completely divorced from modern civilization and I understand that learning how to operate these curious little touch screens is probably in my best interest.
Unfortunately, it appears that I’m allergic to the iPad. When my uncle attempted to show me the device, and all its wonderful apps, I passed it back like a seriously scalding hot potato. Staring at the screen made me itchy. Well, more specifically, I was itching to go outside and enjoy the lovely summer weather. While I can definitely see the value of an iPad, and I can see why millions of users adore it as well, I’m pretty happy with my trusty PC laptop and Nokia phone circa 2009. And, if you can believe it, I didn’t have internet at home until approximately 2007.
But then, I came across an article entitled “For some kids, a book is just an iPad that doesn’t work” by Ivor Tossell. Wait a minute! Stop the presses! What did books ever do to the iPad to be insulted in this way? It’s like comparing apples to bread! Why can’t iPads and books be used separately as distinct learning tools?
Tossell provides an extensive and insightful analysis of the children’s e-book industry, and interviews both authors and parents to create a realistic and well-represented perspective on the subject.
For Gay, it’s important to distinguish between books and games – and the app, she says, is primarily a game. Where it comes to replacing books themselves with apps, she worries that the immersiveness of the technology can break up the shared experience of a child learning to read with a parent.
You could actually put an iPad in a baby’s crib, and the pages will turn by themselves,” she says. Apps that read stories aloud and present interactive widgets threaten children’s ability to explore pages at their own pace, turning a social experience into an isolated pursuit, she says.
More curious now, I dug a little deeper into the relationship between toddlers and iPads. A mommy blogger for Shine On, You Crazy Mama, wrote about her experiences with this exact issue: “Give me my iPad! I NEED it!” or, Adventures In Hi Tech Parenting“.
Do I think [my daughter's] a genius? You bet your boots, I do. But not because of her ability to navigate an iPad. I think most kids her age can do the same thing with the same level of exposure. In fact, I know they can, because I’ve read articles about how preschools are starting to use iPads and touch screens as educational tools.
I’ve also been reading articles about iPad addiction among young children, particularly among very young children. Even the Apple forums have several questions (some serious, some not) from parents concerned about their child’s “problem” with the iPad. Just Google “toddler iPad addiction” and you get some alarming results, if for no other reason than how many hits you get.
And another article entitled “A Parent’s Struggle With a Child’s iPad addiction” is yet more evidence of a growing trend. I must admit that if the headline read “A Parent’s Struggle With a Child’s book addiction” I would rest a little easier, but that is not likely to happen. Here’s hoping! Fingers crossed.
Perhaps this problem feels so foreign to me because I didn’t have much access to technology when I was young. Due to budget constraints, I lived for most of my adolescent and high school years without a home computer or video game console of any kind. Most of my time was spent at the library or riding on my bike, mainly because it was free- and fun! In the summer, I went swimming at the local community pool and played in the sandbox (also free). My choice to not own a Smartphone or tablet, however, is a personal one. Yes, I’m out of the technology loop but I don’t feel deprived. Indeed, iPads are an incredible invention, just not for me.
How do you feel about the iPad and its new position as an all-in-one entertainment resource? Can it offer the same reading experience as a paper book? Why or why not?