Educational iPad and iPod apps: Can children learn from interactive screen time?

Can Young Children Learn From "Educational" Interactive Media?

Can Young Children Learn From "Educational" Interactive Media?

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
May 2 2012 12:24 PM

Can Young Children Learn From "Educational" Interactive Media?

A Brazilian boy looks at an iPad.

Photo by YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images

Over the last couple of years, there has been an explosion of "educational" tablet and smartphone apps for children, even the very young.

But are these and other interactive media really capable of teaching your child anything? Or are they just another way to let parents have a quick break?


Today on Future Tense, we're running an excerpt from the recently updated book Screen Time: How Electronic Media—From Baby Videos to Educational Software—Affects Your Young Child, by New America Foundation fellow Lisa Guernsey. In the adapted excerpt, Guernsey examines just how "educational" interactive media can really be. She writes:

Few studies looking specifically at tablets and touchscreen phones have been released yet. But research from Georgetown University, published in 2010, can give us a hint of whether interactive screen time has any potential for teaching children as young as 2½ years old. The short answer is yes, but the caveats are many.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a project of Slate, New America, and Arizona State that looks at the implications of new technologies.