By Chris Messenger | Published 20/09/2012
When I was a kid there was no Facebook, no Twitter, no Internet. In fact, we scarcely even had mobile phones. What a difference two and a half decades makes, eh? Now, whilst I think every child should be satisfied creatively with some scrap paper and a box of crayons, computer literacy is such an important life skill that without it, our kids will be as lost as we would without the ability to read or write. It’s that important. Personally, I believe very strongly that children should have books and play as their primary sources of entertainment, but I’m certainly not a TV naysayer (besides, should I become a Father it’d give me an excuse to watch Thundercats again), nor am I opposed to video games.
I have four years experience of working with babies, young children, teenagers and kids with behavioural issues, as well as a year writing technology-based articles, so I feel somewhat qualified to be talking about which of the latest kids tablet pc models are worth looking into. Waaaaaay back in 1968 (which is before even my time) computer scientist Alan “the best way to predict the future is to invent it” Kay put forward plans for a children’s educational tool that he called the ‘Dynabook’ this design went on to be hugely influential to the development of both the laptop and the tablet PC, so the roots of the kids tablet pc run very deep indeed. In fact, a large part of the development of modern computer technology has been innovated with education in mind.
Taking this concept into the present day, the first kids tablet pc I want to look at is the Vtech Innotab, aimed squarely at ages 4-9, the Innotab specialises in educational software, encouraging both scholastic learning and computer proficiency. It's an ideal start for your little genius. Activities include, reading, mathematics, geography (via an interactive globe) and a video player, plus the whole thing comes packaged in a child friendly casing that's safe, durable and kid-friendly. The other kids tablet pc I specifically like is the LeapPad explorer. The LeapPad operates on much the same principle as the Innotab, but also has a camera and video recorder built into it. The LeapPad has over 100 games that stretch beyond the curriculum (which works for children who swiftly become bored with very easy, repetitive tasks, like I did) and connects with other Leapster products, enhancing your child's experience.
One could make a very valid argument that buying Tablets for Kids is spoiling your child, but personally, I don't think any gadget, no matter how sophisticated, should annex children from the simple joys of play, imagination and learning from you; the parents. Employing a kids tablet pc as part of a balanced multimedia diet (that includes play and creativity) canonly be a good thing. Conversely, if you rely solely on hi-tech gimmicks to teach your children, you aren't spoiling them, you're robbing them.
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