October 21, 2010

The App Generation

With technology so completely absorbed in our every day lives, we can take a guess that most of our readers are iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android users. Maybe even some of you are reading this post with our app on your phone or iPad! But as tech-savvy we grown-ups may be, you may be surprised to find that your niece or nephew may be just as technologically advanced as you.

photo via: NY Times

In today's day and age, the latest toy for 1-2,- and 3- year olds is not a stuffed animal, Legos, or a Barbie doll. Just as adults have a hard time putting down their iPhones, kids are following suit. And now with thousands of apps aimed directly at young toddlers and children, our future generation is hooked on their iPhones years before we ever had our hands on them.

Log on to YouTube and you are sure to find dozens of parents uploading videos of their young toddlers fiddling with the iPad and iPhone. Apple's user friendly interface is so easy even a two year-old is able to figure out the functions after several minutes.

photo via: Lunchbox Review

Educational, creative, or purely for fun, there is an overflow of apps to keeps kids busy and entertained. Just check out Lunchbox Reviews, a website launched only a month ago, devoted solely to kids apps.

Some parents are advocates of the phenomenon, firmly believing that the educational apps are helping their children to learn faster and have seen proven results. The phone and iPad have also been key for some parents to make day-to-day tasks a little bit easier. Whether it is a long car ride or a restaurant dinner, the kids are too distracted by their apps to complain. But at the same time, these parents are also aware that too much time in front of a screen can be dangerous. Some have commented that it was a bit worrisome how addicted their children were to their iPad and iPhones. But with a controlled and limited play time, they still believe it is a huge advantage to their education and just a natural adjustment to the times of today.

On the other hand, there is also a lot of opposition as many parents argue that the phone is not a toy or a babysitter. Tovah P. Klein, the director of Columbia University's Barnard College Center for Toddler Development, worries that fixation on the iPhone screen every time a child is out and about with parents will limit the child's ability to experience the wider world. And as these children are in a critical growing process, many argue that this interaction can lead to severely stunted attention spans, reducing their experience to a very low level of brain function.

We are a bit hesitant about where we stand on this case as there are obviously pros and cons to both sides. We'll leave it to you to decide. However, one thing we are absolutely positive about is that this further proves our point that technology is the driving force of today. Technology will continue to impact all aspects of our culture, whether we think it is beneficial or not.

photo via: iTunes

As such, there is also a huge market opportunity for developers to expand technological concepts related to child development and education. Since last year, many college and graduate programs, including journalism, pharmacy, and medicine, have included an iPhone as a mandatory tool for classes. With the ability to practice interactive quizzes and download study-tool apps, the iPhone has now become just another added expense on the students' tuition rate.

photo via: FT.com

Furthermore, the Kindle and other digital books have also been tested as a replacement for heavy, expensive textbooks. However, students who experimented with replacing their books for the digital ones found themselves going back to the traditional heavy text books. Some have argued that books defined 'academia' for a thousand years and their education wouldn't be the same without it. Others simply preferred the ability to flip through pages and complain that staring at a screen all day strains their eyes.

Although there are still some imperfections with switching to digital, it is clear that our society is moving toward a more technology-based direction. With the education system now getting on board, our future generation will be getting a much earlier start.

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