Playing computer games for babies: the new tradition between parents and children?
Imagine hugging your toddler together to look at a picture book that is interactive, musical, responsive, and talks to you?
This is the experience that people are having who are engaged in that relatively new hobby: playing computer games with babies.
JumpStart’s Knowledge Adventure calls it “lapware,” the Kiddies Games logo is “Hop on the lap and tap,” and Sesame Street’s “Baby and Me” opens with an animation of a baby monster climbing onto a child’s lap. Monster Daddy to play the computer. Playing computer games with your baby is promoted as a fun activity that a child and their caregiver can share together. And rightly so, because whatever the activity, physical and loving closeness is an important ingredient that babies need for healthy intellectual, emotional and physical development.
Reading a bedtime story to an anxious young child is a tradition in many homes. As children grow older, this can be replaced by watching television together. Our parents’ families listened to the radio together. Playing on the computer with a young child can become a new kind of family tradition. Home computers and the Internet are making their way into more and more homes. Some parents use the computer at work and are happy to share the computer for a fun activity with their children. Other parents want to make sure their children acquire computer skills. Well-designed, interactive, educational computer games appeal to young children as much as television and are more educational than television because they encourage the child to interact and think, rather than passively watch and listen. These are the reasons for the growing popularity of computer programs for young children. Although it is a relatively small industry, baby software has been cited as a very fast growing industry.
What kind of computer software is available for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers? There are free games on websites and there are download software and CDROMs that you can buy. Most of the software for this age group is games, but there are also computer storybooks. Wonderful websites that offer free games, many of which are suitable for preschoolers (preschoolers can direct mouse click) are:
Great free sites for babies (whose skills tend to be more limited to hitting the keyboard) are:
The CDROM or download software you buy is usually better than free games on the Internet. The games are usually superior (more graphics, more music, more complicated games for older children) and the software takes up the entire screen, which is more appropriate for very young children who click anywhere on the screen. Some of the best known producers are:
Reader Rabbit Software from http://www.learningcompany.com
JumpStart software from http://www.knowledgeadventure.com
Fisher-Price Software from http://www.knowledgeadventure.com
Sesame Street Software from http://www.encoresoftware.com or http://www.amazon.com
Computer game software for this age group makes conscientious efforts to be adequately educational. To judge their effectiveness for your child, test them with him. If your child finds it fun, it is probably educational. For a baby, fun generally means that the game responds in some way to random keystrokes and mouse clicks, and that the game continues positively even when the baby is not receiving any input. A preschooler will need more challenges or more educational content, but the game should be designed to always be fun, positively reactive, and self-solving when the child does not get the correct answer. At this age, it is more important that computer games contribute positively to self-esteem, rather than conscientiously correcting incorrect answers about educational concepts that the child will master when he is older anyway. KiddiesGames.com software is meticulous in adhering to these rules.
What kinds of skills are learned by playing computer games for young children? Obviously, computer programs are not suitable for practicing gross motor skills or even fine motor skills. However, there are many types of educational concepts that computer games can help a child master, including shapes, sounds, cause and effect, identifying and naming things (such as objects and colors), increasing vocabulary, language concepts , letter and number shapes, counting, pattern recognition, observation of details, and word construction. At KiddiesGames, we strive to provide games for young children that are out of the ordinary, such as exposure to a foreign language and practicing positions on the phone to dial an emergency. The reactivity and interactivity of computer programs is, of course, superior to that of books and may be superior to that of toys, especially in the area of language. Baby computer games are also mentioned as excellent resources for children with special education needs, because such games are simple, joyful, brightly colored, patient, controlled by the child, and allow the child to make things happen.
An official recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics at http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics%3B107/2/423 is “Discourage children under 2 years of age from watching television and encourage more activities that will promote proper brain development, such as talking, playing, singing, and reading together. ”This has been taken as advice to avoid exposing these young children to computers. However, well-designed children’s software actually encourages those large activities of “talking, playing, singing and reading together.” When carrying out the recreational activities proposed by the computer game, the caregiver actually receives a framework or script to carry out those activities of “talking, playing, singing and reading” with the Experts now say that while baby computer games should not replace toys, blocks, and books, and should not be used as electronic babysitters, they are another valid toy resource. For example, a bole End of Summer 2004 from the Hawaii State Department of Health at [http://www.hawaii.gov/health/family-child-health/eis/summer2004] encourages playing with lapware. The emphasis is not on acquiring measurable skills or getting correct answers, but on open exploration by the child, which is another way of saying “have fun.” Children are programmed to learn and practice what they have learned by playing and having fun.
Playing computer games with your young child is not yet a family tradition. However, it is a fun and sharing activity that is becoming increasingly popular.