Mobile Devices, Impact on Children & the App Gap

A telling story on PBS Newshour on October 25 about the impacts of media on young children, and of special interest,  the impact of mobile devices – smartphones and iPads – on very young children. How are they engaging, is it good or bad, and is the take-up equal?

The news report was based on a study in the USA by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families.  Some of the findings include:

Key Trends

Exposure to computers and mobile devices:

  • 2-4 year olds: 12% use a computer daily
  • 0-8 year olds: 50%  have access to a mobile device

App gap – digital divide

  • Lower income families: 14% have downloaded apps
  • Higher income families: 47%  have downloaded apps

#1 category of iPhone apps now is for preschoolers.

The new interactive media has been endorsed by educators and pediatricians as having great potential.  “Clearly the market is responding to the idea that you can create educational interactive content.”

The  interviewees have children who go to schools where iPads are prevalent. “My school emphasizes that. And I hope that all schools will, because, you’re right, the technology is important and an educational tool, and we want to make it available to every child.”

What will be important is that parents make smart choices and schools also make smart choices, as there was agreement that the iPad is going to replace the backpack. If you think of your own childhood, walking to and from school , loaded up with books, it’s soon to be no more.

Three  issues surfaced from the conversation:

  • How do we make sure that all kids have access to the newest technologies, not just wealthier kids?
  • How we really get good educational content?
  • What’s a good amount face time to spent with digital media?

To read the full interview transcript and see a video check out PBS Newshour, or read the full report of the research study from Common Sense Media.

If you have good education content for kids that you’d like to interactive, please let us know.