Tablets and your pre-schooler: Is it a good idea?

While writing here at Techerator I plan on covering a lot of tops related to the Mac and iOS. After all, that is what I know when it comes to technology. Part of those articles will include a series about iOS apps for the preschooler and toddler. Basically these articles will be recommending apps that have been a hit in my house. However, before I get to those articles I wanted to write an article about the benefits (and downsides) of letting your preschooler use a tablet or phone or similar device.

Tablets for kids are popping up all over the place. There is the Leapfrog LeapPad (now in its second-generation version). There is a new kids-only tablet from Toys “R” Us. Tablets are hitting the kids market and hitting it fast.

There will be many people out there that will say a kid should go nowhere near a tablet device. There are also many people out there who say a young child should not be watching television (don’t get me started on this one). I disagree on both counts. In moderation, and with parent supervision,using a tablet can be educational for a young child – not to mention fun.

There are apps that teach writing, reading, and arithmetic. There are apps that teach patterns and spacial reasoning. There are apps for the artist child. In many cases these apps are reinforcing what a child will be learning in school. In other cases the app might be teaching the child something new and giving him/her a head start.

My son loves playing games that are based on his favorite characters like Dinosaur Train and Clifford the Big Red Dog or Team Umizoomi.  We also read books on the iPad and there are a lot of fantastic interactive book apps out there. Through these apps he is having fun learning. He is also learning how to type and learning how to use a tablet device, which I think will be the future in schools over laptops (but that is another story).

Don’t get me wrong, too much use of a tablet is not good. In fact we limit usage heavily in my house. My son is on the iPad no more than 20 minutes per week. I also don’t let him play any apps except the educational games (some are based on characters and others are not).

The bottom line is that there is definitely a place for tablets and preschoolers, and if you monitor a child’s usage it can be a great learning tool.