Mobile Will Be the Next Big Thing in Educational Media…If You Let It
A recent study by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center found that parents perceived mobile platforms to have the least educational potential of any major media activity, far trailing computer programs, web surfing, computer games, television, and video games. The numbers really tell the story here:
- 1% of parents surveyed identified the mobile platform as the device with the highest potential for educational value.
- 47% of parents of children ages 3-10 do not let their children use mobile devices at all
- 95% of parents that did let their children use mobile devices restricted their child’s usage in some way.
Let those numbers soak in for a moment. The obvious conclusion we can gather is that parents see very little educational value in mobile devices for their children, and, what’s more, they demonstrate their wariness by limiting their children’s usage.
I’m not here to proclaim that mobile devices like smart phones and tablets are completely childproof, but I would like to dispel some doubts that parents seem to have about their educational value. After all, there are major sections in both the Apple App Store and the Android Market dedicated to learning and education. What’s more, studies have shown that interactive media, like the kinds supported on tablets and smart phones, engage and educate children in ways that old media never did (Lieberman, 2006).
So where is the disconnect? If these games are so beneficial, why don’t parents perceive them that way?
The Cooney Center study went on to explain that the media-based activities that parents most enjoy doing with their children are all old media activities such as watching television, reading books, and playing board games. Parents trust these activities because they grew up with them, and therefore deem them appropriate for children.
But in this instance, does mother really know best? We’ve seen the enormous educational potential these interactive new media games provide. Are you the only thing standing between them and your children?
There’s only one way to find out: try them out. Take some time to look over some of the best Android apps and find apps that are good for your kids. Better yet, take some time to play them with your kids. Studies have long since proven that a child’s media diet is heavily affected by that of their parents (Barron, Takeuchi, & Fithian, 2009). So ask yourself: are you limiting your child to old media?
If the answer is yes, the solution is just a download away.