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Do Tablets Help Children Learn?

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the google-it dept.

Education 223

hypnosec writes "With the wide array of electronic devices available in our everyday lives, it appears that children have formed an attachment to a different kind of toy. According to the latest survey, 77 per cent of polled US, UK parents believe that iPads and other tablets are good educational tools that boost kids' creativity. Meanwhile, researchers in this field explain that it is a matter of balance — and a child's access to tablets and other similar electronic devices should be monitored. Specialists warn that using tablets in excess could cause attention deficit disorder and even autism, particularly at a very young age."

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Indeed. (-1, Troll)

JesusIsSpyingOnAss (2609933) | about 2 years ago | (#39566655)

Well, to begin, I'm just your average guy. But unlike your average guy, I once had everything anyone could ever want: a gorgeous wife, a beautiful two-story house, an adorable seven year old daughter, a stable job, and a nice salary. Basically, I was living the American dream. None of my needs or wants were left unfulfilled. The family always got along, and everything was perfect.

Until one day, that is. Following one of my routine doctor appointments, my doctor informed me that I had lung cancer and that I only had a few years to live at most. As you can imagine, I was shocked. Not just shocked; I could see all of my hopes and dreams being shattered right before my very eyes. Still, my doctor gave me hope by telling me that there was a chance, however slim, that Chemotherapy and various other things could help me. After speaking with my wife, I decided to receive the treatments.

All was not lost. I still had a perfect family that I could rely on and get emotional support from. I still had hope for the future. I'm a firm believer that you should make the best of things rather than wallow in depression. I had to press on: not just for my sake, but for the sake of my loved ones. But my strong resolve was soon shattered.

The family I thought I could count on betrayed me. My wife, whom I loved deeply, filed for a divorce. She said that she could not handle the emotional trauma of being with someone who had cancer. She apologized profusely, but no matter what I said, I could not change her mind. I screamed, I cried, and I begged her to rethink her decision, but it was all to no avail.

In my madness, I made all kinds of accusations. I said that she was cheating on me, that she never loved me, that she just married me for my money, and various other things. I soon learned, however, that a few of those were more than just baseless accusations. I began stalking her, going through all of her personal possessions, and trying uncover any secrets she may have been keeping. What I discovered horrified me: she had been cheating on me with another man for the past year. She must have been waiting for an opportune time to abandon me for this other man.

When confronted about her betrayal, she screamed at me, told me it was none of my business, told me that I was always a worthless husband, and told me that I was an abusive man. I soon discovered that there was absolutely nothing that I could do. My marriage was in shambles, and by this point, I was on the brink of suicide. The only thing keeping me going was my devotion to my precious daughter.

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Re:Indeed. (0)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about 2 years ago | (#39566897)

I wish I had mod points.

Re:Indeed. (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#39566937)

Agreed. That was the funniest non-sequitur I've read since I last cleaned spam off my blog. (Cheap viagra, cheap viagra, cheap viagra, cheap viagra.)

Re:Indeed. (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 2 years ago | (#39567119)

With Easter coming up, wouldn't it be more appropriate to spam about Cheep Viagra for those flaccid marshmallows?

Well then are better then text book in some ways (0)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#39566657)

Well then are better then text book in some ways and they can give tests / have interactive leaning.

Is our children learning? (5, Funny)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | about 2 years ago | (#39566727)

The real question is, is our children learning?

Re:Is our children learning? (0)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#39566879)

The real question is, is our children learning?

Of course that's not what he actually said, but why be honest? The speech he was reading was poorly worded, he was supposed to say: "The question to ask is 'Are our children learning?'". But he muffed the delivery of the rhetorical question.

Re:Is our children learning? (4, Interesting)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | about 2 years ago | (#39566975)

Hmm, perhaps I didn't get the wording exactly right, but I was completely honest in 1) the absurdity of this joke of a statement, made by the most powerful man in the world, and 2) the idiocy of a president who was elected in a botched election that did not reflect voter intent.

btw, it looks like you're "defending" the guy by saying he can't read a cue card correctly.

Re:Is our children learning? (0)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567127)

You think it's absurd to ask if our system of education is effective? Okay.

Botched election? If it was botched the Supreme Court would've thrown it out. Oh wait, our resident constitutional scholar says they don't have the authority to make decisions since they weren't elected. Speaking of idiots.

Find me any public speaker who doesn't stumble on a line occasionally.

Re:Is our children learning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39567327)

Hahaha! You're such an idiot. Your shitty posts made me laugh.

Re:Is our children learning? (1)

hairyfish (1653411) | more than 2 years ago | (#39568171)

Find me any public speaker who doesn't stumble on a line occasionally.

George W. Bush. He didn't stumble occasionally, he stumbled a lot. A lot more than a person in his position should which I think was the point.

Re:Is our children learning? (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#39568149)

Why do you bring up Bush vs Gore?

Re:Is our children learning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39567245)

Of course you know W. was an imbecile, but why be honest?

Re:Is our children learning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39566941)

Sorry, it's "AM our children learning?"

Re:Is our children learning? (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | more than 2 years ago | (#39568393)

We're going to have the best-educated American people in the world.

Re:Well then are better then text book in some way (5, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39566743)

Yes, and too much television will rot your brain, give you cancer, and ruin your eyes.

Tablets: They're new, they're (a little) different, they'll have lots of critics and fear mongers.

  As for "causing ADD/Autism", I only see that happening if they're used as the ultimate babysitter (kinda like TV 30 years ago.) If a kid's whole day, every day, consists of 99% tablet interaction and 1% ducking criticism from parents and other adults, yeah, they're going to come out a little bent, at least compared to kids who didn't grow up that way.

Anybody still go to a school that forbids simple +-x/ calculators in advanced math and science courses? This, too, shall pass.

Re:Well then are better then text book in some way (5, Insightful)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | about 2 years ago | (#39566829)

More generally - is there anything they aren't blaming autism on these days?

Re:Well then are better then text book in some way (5, Funny)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | about 2 years ago | (#39566917)

let's go further. is autism an indicator of our evolution? is autism a natural progression of our minds mixing with technology before we merge with it a la kurzweil-style? the borg seem pretty autistic.

Re:Well then are better then text book in some way (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39567141)

No. That's totally loopy.

Re:Well then are better then text book in some way (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#39567077)

Yes. To our knowledge, sloppy journalism has yet to be linked with a rise in incidence of autistic spectrum disorders.

Re:Well then are better then text book in some way (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567607)

More generally - is there anything they aren't blaming autism on these days?

I'm pretty sure no one's linked autism to Viagra.

Re:Well then are better then text book in some way (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567685)

Well the recent sharp rise in autism diagnoses is curiously synced to the introduction of Viagra.

And Viagra had been linked to a rise in...

Never mind.

Re:Well then are better then text book in some way (3, Insightful)

Xhris (97992) | about 2 years ago | (#39566835)

Too much television will "rot" your brain - there is no question about this. Studies have clearly show that, for example, children under 2 there is a steep correlation between hours of tv watched per week and vocabulary (tv watching decreases your small kids vocabulary).

My 7yo daughter is reading years ahead of her age - I'm sure this is down to a very small amount of television watching - and she does not miss tv at all. She would much rather play with her sister or read a book.

Re:Well then are better then text book in some way (2)

jedwidz (1399015) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567645)

Even Teletubbies isn't safe. One time they tried to teach the concepts of 'big' and 'small' by moving closer to and further away from the screen. Ouch. And then there's the repressed-memory-trauma-inducing 'lion' and 'bear' segments.

Once I met someone who claimed to have never watched TV, but instead read novels extensively. I thought that was fascinating, like meeting an alien or a ferral human. As a test I asked her about Scooby Doo, and she had *no clue* what I was talking about. Bonus IQ points right there.

As reading recommendations she suggested 'Dune' by Frank Herbert, and 'The Bone People' by Keri Hulme.

Re:Well then are better then text book in some way (1)

tom17 (659054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567853)

What is it where not only do you not have a Scooby, but you didn't have a Scooby that you didn't have a Scooby? How confusing!

Re:Well then are better then text book in some way (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39568383)

Too much television will "rot" your brain - there is no question about this. Studies have clearly show that, for example, children under 2 there is a steep correlation between hours of tv watched per week and vocabulary (tv watching decreases your small kids vocabulary).

Horse Hockey! My 3 year old only started to talk when he became interested in Thomas The Tank Engine at age 2. All of a sudden he went from almost no vocabulary to knowing each engine's name by heart as well as a stack of related verbs and nouns. At 3 he's telling his mother what kind of whale (Orca) and he's learning some spanish courtesy of Dora the Explorer. My not yet 2 year old daughter's vocab is fantastic, though she's not up to putting more than 2 words together yet. She loves Dora too.

It all depends on the content the children see and how it's re-enforced. Saying TV is bad for kids is no different to saying books are bad. It's not the delivery mechanism anywhere near as much as the content.

Re:Well then are better then text book in some way (4, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567809)

But sadly the problem is that is EXACTLY what often happens, they become fancy electronic babysitters. I have gone in houses where there isn't a single book, not a one, but they make sure the kid has an X360 or PS3 because that keeps little Billy out of their hair.

As for the tablet i don't see anything the tablet could do that a cheap netbook or desktop could do, except maybe cost more. in the end its not about the tech, its about actually stimulating the child's mind, really interacting with them instead of just handing them some more technocrap and sending them to their rooms.

I had mine build their own desktops, showing them along the way what each piece was and explaining how it worked, I loaded up modding tools to show them how code was translated into what they saw on the screen, etc and now while the oldest has many friends that are having to take remedial computer classes he gets extra points being a TA and helping show the others how to properly research on the net. its not the tech, its actually spending time with the kids that counts.

Re:Well then are better then text book in some way (3, Interesting)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39568131)

As for the tablet i don't see anything the tablet could do that a cheap netbook or desktop could do, except maybe cost more.

In the 8-10 year old range, I have found the iPad 1 to be more kid-resistant than an Asus netbook. I think, dollar for dollar, the iPad will outlast 2, perhaps 3 netbooks.

Re:Well then are better then text book in some way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39568093)

Unbelievable that you are the only person even mentioning the word "eye". We just need to ensure that the screen doesn't damage the young eyes, even with huge number of hours per day of veiwing from proximity. And the audio produced must be controlled such that they cannot casue deafening the way some high power music systems & and headphones already can.
And I still beleive that there should be some courses, all the way till college, that keeps students in touch with manual compute. I personally feel it is a mental excercise that keeps the brain fresh. Really.

Hey look (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39566671)

You get a drop shadow inside the text fields when you click on them! Now THAT's innovative! Go Slashdot!

Re:Hey look (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 2 years ago | (#39566697)

i'm sorry but that's just an inner glow, not a true drop shadow. Slashdot isn't up to that yet.

Wrong question. (5, Funny)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 2 years ago | (#39566693)

Do they help us learn? Well, it depends on the software.

Are they part of the Star Trek future-utopia? Hell yes.

Cell phones...tablets...we're well on our way to holodecks, and I'll be damned if we stop now.

Re:Wrong question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39566875)

Flying cars.... tick.

But wheres my robot slave. I'm holdin out for the robot slave.

Re:Wrong question. (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567147)

Wrong sci-fi universe. Also be careful. As unintuitive as it may seem, universes with robot slaves tend to be dystopias.

Thats right enslaving robots is bad...bad! (2)

voss (52565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567393)

Attractive female robot companions that have imprinted on you and think you are awesome and want to be helpful ...is good.

Re:Wrong question. (4, Interesting)

digitallife (805599) | about 2 years ago | (#39567031)

Joking aside, you're spot on that it depends on the software. My daughter started using my iPad when she was one, and some of the educational/kids apps are complete garbage, doing more harm than good. Some of the apps however are FABULOUS. She learned her numbers and letters before she was three, and despite my best efforts, I think the iPad did most of the work. The big benefit the iPad has is that it can hold their attention, and give them infinite time when it's got it. I had to struggle to keep her interested in letters and numbers, and I would run out of energy (or time) relatively quickly.

On top of that, iOS is just fantastic for kids. My current one year old grabs the iPad whenever he can get his hands on it (he bites it so I keep it away from him!), and he's already figured out how to open it, scroll through the apps, and launch one without breaking anything. All in the few seconds he gets when I'm not looking! Even at 3 my daughter can't use a mouse effectively, so a normal computer is totally unworkable at these young ages.

Finally, I think using a tablet is a lot better than zoning in front of a tv. God knows how much Time our generations spent doing at, and we still managed to turn out okay... I think...

What? (3, Insightful)

nmb3000 (741169) | about 2 years ago | (#39566719)

How does a device which drives and rewards specific behavior (tap the star to win!) increase creativity more than free-form finger paints and crayons?

Oh, that's right. It's a $600 toy they're trying to justify buying. Surely there must be something better they can spend the $6,000 on than 10 iPads.

Re:What? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39566761)

It's a $600 toy they're trying to justify buying. Surely there must be something better they can spend the $6,000 on than 10 iPads.

Like, what? 1/5 of an annual teacher's salary expense?

Re:What? (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#39566815)

Stop being myopic. Please THINK.

Let me twist that around:

How does connect the dots with a crayon increase creativity more than an iPad where they can learn to play music, finger paint, and read.

It's what you DO. You sound like those people that complain TV is bad and then go off to read a 10 cent romance novel.
It's a tool. Use it as such.

Re:What? (4, Insightful)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567561)

I realize there is software written for tablets (someone linked to many below) which emulate activities such as drawing and painting. The point of this article is that creativity and learning are improved over traditional methods. I doubt that doing things on a tablet is even equivalent to the physical interaction of other methods, let alone superior.

Is a math program better than watching and interacting with a teacher? Are 8 blobs of colored pixels really better than the 5 oranges and 3 apples on the table?

Is drawing (with a 100+ ms latency) better than on a piece of paper? Will a flat glass screen provide the subtle, subconscious insight into texture, shading, pressure, etc that crayons do?

Is a finger painting program provide as meaningful feedback as actually getting paint on your fingers? Just how well can you simulate the color and paper for water-colors?

Humans are social animals that have evolved to use our hands to examine and manipulate our environment. There's a reason smaller children do things like finger paint -- it's a very tactile activity with clear feedback.

Technology has a place in the classroom, of course -- the newfangled school computers I used in my middle school years are what pushed me at CS and programming -- but tablets like the iPad are solutions looking for a problem. That they're failing to find one is why we get these articles claiming they're "better" because, gosh, 77% of adults guts' say so.

You say they're a tool -- okay, nice truism. Please, tell me what tablets do to improve more traditional methods.

Re:What? (1)

Jaktar (975138) | more than 2 years ago | (#39568197)

Agree 100%. My two children have used our tablets/phones for drawing and other activities. Nothing beats the real thing.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39568203)

Beautifully put.

Thank you.

Re:What? (3, Interesting)

digitallife (805599) | more than 2 years ago | (#39568361)

Tablets do two primary things to improve on traditional methods of education and learning:

1) they provide an interactive, consistent, high availability, versatile environment which replaces alternative 'babysitters' such as the TV or game console. Let's be honest, if all kids had 2 parents giving 24 hours a day to them, we wouldn't need daycare, babysitters, or school, because they are all just supplements for parents. But parents need to work, make dinner, clean the house, change diapers, buy the groceries... And they run out of time and energy. A tablet with a good educational app is better than many of the readily available alternatives.

2) they have the ability to engage kids in a way that adults often struggle with while teaching certain (boring, non physical) content. I know that my very best efforts were barely enough to keep my daughter interested in learning letters for more than a couple minutes, yet playing an alphabet app with her could keep her interested for up to 30 minutes. Apps that simply are not available for desktops/laptops, in a format (touch) that is far superior, especially for young kids.

Re:What? (2)

Seraphim1982 (813899) | more than 2 years ago | (#39568357)

How does connect the dots with a crayon increase creativity more than an iPad where they can learn to play music, finger paint, and read.

The crayon is only limited by the imagination of the kid (and reality), while the iPad is limited by both the imagination of the kid and the programmer.

For example: When I was in first grade we learned about the primary colors and how mixing them would give other colors. Our 'homework' was to color in this venn diagram type thing, so there would be a 'red' circle and a 'blue' circle and where they overlapped was purple. Now just about every kid in the class used a red crayon to color in the red part, a blue crayon for the blue part, and a purple crayon for the purple part (I think this was how the task was presented to us). One kid however used the red and the blue crayons in the purple area to make it purple, and it worked pretty well. If he had been doing the same sort of thing on in an app then he would have only worked if it was something the programmer thought of and took the time to put in.

Re:What? (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | about 2 years ago | (#39566963)

Consider the source (5, Interesting)

tomhath (637240) | about 2 years ago | (#39566973)

The company that did the survey, KidsIndustries, offers their marketing service "to ensure your brand is front of mind with your consumer". So quick, run out and buy several iPads; everybody knows they make your kid smarter.

Re:Consider the source (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#39567107)

100% of the specialists not actually cited in the article agree!

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39567083)

It's a new generation growing up with these tools, the next evolutionary leap? Maybe.
Don't be jealous. Just think, in a hundred years, all new people!

Re:What? (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567157)

It seems your sig is particularly appropriate right about now.

(Also, who says that using educational software and using free-form expressive learning are mutually exclusive things? You have spoken - crayons are the peak of educational tools! Let us stop now and never try anything else!

Re:What? (1)

s0nicfreak (615390) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567315)

There are free-from finger paint and coloring applications. In a world where many parents are too busy or too lazy to clean up the mess of real finger pants and such, it is a good thing.

At least it's an improvement (2)

chrylis (262281) | about 2 years ago | (#39566733)

I hadn't heard Jenny McCarthy was blaming iPads now; I suppose it's an improvement from a public-health perspective.

Re:At least it's an improvement (2)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567291)

It's the mercury in the florescent backlights that causes autism.

Autism? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39566751)

I love how "Specialists" have made autism into a learned disorder instead of a genetic one. Kinda like the anti-vaccine crowd was yelling as a possibility.

Re:Autism? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#39566959)

"Specialists" find your post inflammatory and demand financial compensation for defamation!

Re:Autism? (2)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567745)

Of course. If it's genetic, there's no reason to listen to their kookball warnings.

Learning is not so simple (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#39566755)

I wish people would stop making the assumption that there is only one way to learn something. It implies that there is one superior form of learning and a bunch of inferior ones. One problem of one-to-many teaching is that it must use a learning style which is effective to the broadest audience, which can (and usually does) mean that the learning style used is not the optimal one for some, if not most, of the audience. Another is that not all material is equal; You do not teach math the same way as you do phy ed; The goals are different, and in fact the areas of the brain targeted for development are different. Radically so.

So to ask a question "Do tablets help children learn?" is disengenuous at best. They will help in some situations. They will not help in all situations.

With that out of the way, I have some personal experience worth sharing. My sister is age 15 and has struggled with reading and math; Her verbal vocabulary vastly outstrips her written vocabulary. I purchased an iPad 2 for her this christmas (not cheap!) after several previous failed attempts to get her interested in reading. Since then, her reading comprehension has improved, and I believe access to a tablet device can be credited with that, because of it's interactive and hands-on nature. It is a more intuitive design for written material than a computer, and it is in a more accessible format. As well, because she can just swipe her finger over a word and get a definition and a spoken example of the word, it helps associate the written form of the word to the spoken one. I think tablets are very good for certain specific cases like this; and could be very beneficial for people with specific learning disorders.

But I do not suggest everyone buy a tablet for their child (or 'a' child, as the case may be!).

Re:Learning is not so simple (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#39566799)

Specialists warn that using tablets in excess could cause attention deficit disorder and even autism

Oh yeah, I forgot to add this bit: Also, the specialists above are morons. Nobody has yet conclusively determined the cause of either condition, but it appears to be hereditary, at least in part. Suggesting that tablets cause autism is as scientifically irresponsible as saying vaccinations cause autism. Let me be clear here: Nobody knows why these things happen. Anyone who says otherwise should be immediately imposed upon to provide compelling evidence to support their claim, since many studies have been done and no clear answer has emerged yet.

Re:Learning is not so simple (1, Troll)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#39567019)

Specialists think you are being a bit harsh in deriding their unfounded claims. 100% of experts interviewed agree!

Re:Learning is not so simple (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567553)

Specialists think you are being a bit harsh in deriding their unfounded claims. 100% of experts interviewed agree!

"Right and wrong do exist. Just because you don't know what the right answer is, even if there is no way for you to know what the right answer is, doesn't make your answer right or even okay. It's much simpler than that... It's just plain wrong." -- Dr. House

Re:Learning is not so simple (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#39567009)

I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a student frustrated or hindered by adding interactivity to any learning process. I think the implied benefit is sufficiently broad in its appeal that a general claim can be made. Certainly they're not necessary, and perhaps a claim could be made about setting up unmaintainable expectations (can't learn everything interactively, after all!), but because we're wired to learn from experience first and by proxy second, it's natural for any animal with a nervous system to desire this sort of learning aid.

Re:Learning is not so simple (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567833)

I think the idea that different people learn in different ways is highly suspect.

It's not like Sara and Tommy are different species. What works to help Sara learn will work for Tommy unless Tommy lacks some basic faculty that Sara has.

If this were not the case, schools would never have worked.

Where we differ is mostly culture.

I have ADHD (2)

grammar fascist (239789) | about 2 years ago | (#39566773)

If there are environmental factors, they're slight. It's as heritable as height.

Plenty of things can cause the same symptoms in the short term without the neurological condition. Examples are the death of a parent (the emotional pain is, among other things, highly distracting), lack of sleep, and malnutrition. Yes, staring at a screen all day and experiencing nothing but rapid, small rewards can cause an otherwise healthy kid to find other things less rewarding. But I've read a lot about ADHD, and I've never seen anything conclusive that says such things can give a child the actual disorder.

Key word: "excess" (4, Interesting)

enjar (249223) | about 2 years ago | (#39566789)

We monitor all of the "screen time" our kids get. Phones, computer, TV, DS and Leapsters can be played with or watched for a while (usually about one hour a day). We also don't allow screen time before lunch and make sure they also have physical activity, read books, play games (card, board, puzzles), Legos, ride bikes, go to the park, go outside (sledding, swingset, bubbles, hula hoop) and do organized lessons (dancing, swimming). We also take family vacations at a lake where we do swimming, fishing, canoeing, tubing, hiking and other outdoor stuff. Last year I think they went four days without TV. Sometimes they whine that they want to watch something else but once they get involved in something new they generally forget about it.

We'd never just park them with a tablet and let them "learn" that way. They still have a lot of real-world stuff to figure out before they can spend significant time in electronic land.

what? (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#39566791)

"Specialists warn that using tablets in excess could cause attention deficit disorder and even autism, particularly at a very young age.""

Specialist in what, making scary shit up about technology?

The tablet is a window to the world. Parents should control it, but that's about it. If it gets the child active in something, then it's good. The fact that it's a tablet is secondary.

I ma from the era where for entertainment kids through rocks at each other. i.e. every generation prior to 1995.
My kids are very much in the internet generation. And they can do and learn far more then I had the opportunity to.

Re:what? (1)

phriedom (561200) | about 2 years ago | (#39566857)

No kidding. I'm pretty sure we know nothing conclusive about what causes autism, so any uncited quote from an unnamed source that claims that too much tablet use could cause it is worthy of scorn. I'm kind of surprised that hypnosec got away with including that crap in the headline. Can we mod him down?

Re:what? (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#39567063)

The nydailynews.com article actually cites a few researchers talking about the problems of replacing human interaction with computer instruction: i.e., it hinders the development of social skills and creates a dependence. These are basically the same anti-TV-babysitter arguments, except with interactive devices instead of passive media. No researcher is actually quoted naming any developmental or hereditary disorders as being "caused" by too much screen time; one is even noted as insisting caution in making such claims.

I believe we can firmly blame sloppy journalism.

Do Tablets Help Children Learn? (1)

walkerp1 (523460) | about 2 years ago | (#39566793)

If I were to say yes, would you stop asking?

Asking the wrong question. (3, Interesting)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#39566807)

Of course tablets can help you learn, that is a no brainer.

The real question is, Can we give them to children and monitor their use so they use it to learn, instead of just for entertainment.

Re:Asking the wrong question. (1)

jedwidz (1399015) | about 2 years ago | (#39566965)

Agreed, of course tablets can help kids learn, potentially much better than with traditional means. Spend five minutes with a kid and a tablet and try not to be overwhelmed by the possibilities.

So here's an anecdote: recently got an iPad 3, put Scribblenauts on it. Now my four-year-old can spell all of the following:

jetpack
gun
yak
hungry baby

Re:Asking the wrong question. (1)

DeathElk (883654) | more than 2 years ago | (#39568355)

Hey, that's cool! It's a good thing you got an iPad because if you'd bought an android tablet, he'd be able to spell:

pr0n
lol
l33t
haXXorZ
rofl

Re:Asking the wrong question. (1)

cappp (1822388) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567161)

It remains to be seen if this sort of interactive technology is beneficial in the classroom. A previous comment [slashdot.org] from a couple of months ago gives a few handy links to stories suggesting the benefits, if they exist, are limited.

That being said, a recent story in the NYT [nytimes.com] paints a more positive picture.

Many studies have found that technology has helped individual classrooms, schools or districts. For instance, researchers found that writing scores improved for eighth-graders in Maine after they were all issued laptops in 2002. The same researchers, from the University of Southern Maine, found that math performance picked up among seventh- and eighth-graders after teachers in the state were trained in using the laptops to teach. A question plaguing many education researchers is how to draw broader inferences from such case studies, which can have serious limitations. For instance, in the Maine math study, it is hard to separate the effect of the laptops from the effect of the teacher training.

The whole article is worth reading if you have the time but a few take away comments include:

Some classroom studies show that math scores rise among students using instructional software, while others show that scores actually fall....

One broad analysis of laptop programs like the one in Maine, for example, found that such programs are not a major factor in student performance.

“Rather than being a cure-all or silver bullet, one-to-one laptop programs may simply amplify what’s already occurring — for better or worse,”

A review by the Education Department in 2009 of research on online courses — which more than one million K-12 students are taking — found that few rigorous studies had been done and that policy makers “lack scientific evidence” of their effectiveness.. A division of the Education Department that rates classroom curriculums has found that much educational software is not an improvement over textbooks.

Belated long story short – the evidence is contradictory and more study is needed.

wrong question again (1)

xzvf (924443) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567679)

The real question is: Do we have the expertise, training, software and infrastructure to use a tablet to enhance education? Using the tablet for entertainment occasionally isn't bad, monitoring for inappropriate behavior and metrics is part of a solid network infrastructure, and teachers need to know how to use the devices or it is a waste of resources. I've seen too much technology thrown over the wall and minimally used.

Simple Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39566809)

No.

Hmmm (5, Informative)

AxDx (1184351) | about 2 years ago | (#39566811)

I personally work in education in a fairly large school district.. Whenever people discuss this topic, they tend to focus on the wrong things in my opinion. What we need to focus on: 1) Is this a matter of taking a technology that was developed for personal entertainment and trying to make it conform to "serious education". 2) If kids can't write/express succinctly on paper or read a book, what makes you think that some shiny $500 tablet will? 3) Total cost of the device, not just initial.. you look at your average tablet plus e-books, plus apps and you have a very expensive alternative to plain ole notebooks, pencils, and textbooks 4) Management.. Schools quickly learn that just giving these things away to students quickly amounts to a management nightmare they didn't foresee.. Everything from warranty repair, broken glass, application deployment/updates and acceptable content are only possible with a well thought out plan, and school-wide participation at all levels..

Re:Hmmm (3, Insightful)

jon3k (691256) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567195)

Good points, worth discussing

1) It wasn't specifically for entertainment, that's a pretty misleading argument. It's just a tablet computer, it was designed from the ground up for a lot more than entertainment. (eg - Exchange messaging, calendaring, contacts, reading, web browsing, etc. Just watch the original iPad commercials.)
2) That's a misleading argument. The question shouldn't be limited to "can we get non-performing students to perform". That isn't its sole purpose. An iPad can also be a better tool for already productive and capable students.
3) Compare that to the cost of the school supplies it replaces. I was spending hundreds of dollars a year in textbooks alone years ago when I was in school. I'm afraid to even ask what it costs now.

Also worth considering - what does that iPad bring to the table beyond with what we have now. How about the level of interaction we've never seen. Two students coloring together? instantly feeding their art to a large display (tv/projector) to share with the whole class? the only real limitations are your imagination. What about the communication with the parent to help development, you can feed the child's work right into a web based application that a parent can monitor from work/home. You could take it as far as being able to see and comment on your child's work in real-time.

I think we need to get outside of the box of limiting iPads to being simply replacements for the tools we have now. It can be so much more than that with a little creativity.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Eponymous Hero (2090636) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567233)

1) Is this a matter of taking a technology that was developed for personal entertainment and trying to make it conform to "serious education".

http://www.officehell.co.uk/uploads/items/images/The-best-memory-of-school-796.jpg [officehell.co.uk]
nuff said

2) If kids can't write/express succinctly on paper or read a book, what makes you think that some shiny $500 tablet will?

moot point:
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/business/s_695637.html [pittsburghlive.com]

3) Total cost of the device, not just initial.. you look at your average tablet plus e-books, plus apps and you have a very expensive alternative to plain ole notebooks, pencils, and textbooks

see if you can get a bulk discount for these:
http://www.zdnet.com/photos/10-best-tablets-for-kids/6330739?seq=3&tag=photo-frame;get-photo-roto [zdnet.com]

4) Management.. Schools quickly learn that just giving these things away to students quickly amounts to a management nightmare they didn't foresee.. Everything from warranty repair, broken glass, application deployment/updates and acceptable content are only possible with a well thought out plan, and school-wide participation at all levels..

you already deal with this:
http://cpr.ca.gov/cpr_report/Issues_and_Recommendations/Chapter_3_Education_Training_and_Volunteerism/ETV14.html [ca.gov]

"Depending on the subject, a single elementary textbook can range in price from $30 to $100. Legislation should be enacted to reduce the cost of K-12 school textbooks." $30-$100 for a single textbook? the tablets i referenced costs about as much, and you could conceivably get one that puts all your textbooks on it.

"Many college books are going digital. One major educational company plans to release 300 online titles this fall at half the price of regular textbooks, and dozens of other online textbooks and supplemental materials are already available. Digital textbooks can cut costs and streamline note taking. They also allow professors to link classroom notes to online materials for more discussion and easily update items as needed. Digital textbooks can be updated frequently, for example, history books can include information on what happened in the Legislature two weeks ago. There is no longer any need for textbooks to be out of date. Digital textbooks can save school systems money. Textbooks are easily damaged, lost and quickly outdated. Digital textbooks can always stay up-to-date, and are inexpensive to replace." -- see the Digital Books subhead on that page

Infrastructure and training (1)

xzvf (924443) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567741)

You have to have infrastructure to support tablets for a roll out to be successful. 1:1 Laptop deployments on existing network infrastructure have shredded wireless networks in schools. TCO of tablets will be 4X initial capital expenses, assuming you can get more than 1-2 years out of them. Plus teachers have to know how to use them inside their lessons, and to be viable from a cost perspective, nearly every learning activity will have to use the device in some form.

Do Tablets Help Children Learn? (1)

fermion (181285) | about 2 years ago | (#39566823)

I think many and doctors think so. Everyone who can be is diagnosed with ADDHD or autism, and let the lifetime of pill popping begin. Kids that are docile, obedient, and never talk. That is what will save the world!

All kidding aside, what will determine if the the tablet will help kids learn is the same thing that helped determine if the laptop, or desktop, book, or pen helps kids learn. Are they properly trained in their use. Do they understand them as tools or simply entertainment. I mean why is a book and pen and paper so out of vogue? Because schools are not teaching kids how to read and write to learn. We teach them how to read and write, praise them when they say the phonics, promote them when they can read a chapter book and copy a few passages, but what about learning? Books and pen are used both for pleasure and learning, sometimes at the same time, yet the later has been deemphasized.

A tablet can present information to a wider group of learning styles, but there is no magic elixir that will make students learn. A student who is not properly taught that the tablet is a tool will just use it as a toy. Learning might go on if the information is presented as a toy, and there might even be a higher rate of retention for the unmotivated student, but that hardly means that superman carries a tablet into the classroom.

I would certainly say that a tablet may provide benefits over traditional textbooks, even for no other reason that it is easier to get background information. I would say that every kids needs a text processor, though a word processor leads to toy territory, and like the MS commercial shows, replaces ideas and grammer with pretty colors and fonts. Some tablet do not run flash or java well, so for some teaching applications are not suitable. But at the end of the day, the question is if a student is going to use a tablet as tool for learning or to play angry birds in space, which illustrates good physics for the elementary school student, but will hardly prepare a kid for the AP exam.

Re:Do Tablets Help Children Learn? (1)

jon3k (691256) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567227)

"I mean why is a book and pen and paper so out of vogue?"

Books - because I can store a few million on a Kindle/iPad and take them anywhere, along with having them delivered wireless and nearly instantly.

Pen and Paper - because the only time I use a pen and paper is to sign my name.

That's like asking why we use Excel instead of paper spreadsheets. I'm not sure how the answer isn't immediately and painfully obvious to anyone.

Re:Do Tablets Help Children Learn? (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567985)

That's like asking why we use Excel instead of paper spreadsheets. I'm not sure how the answer isn't immediately and painfully obvious to anyone.

Because it's difficult to get Excel to run on Linux?

Yeah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39566827)

Ritalin tablets?

Re:Yeah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39567523)

And ampakines!

Yes and no (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39566843)

Tablets are not a magical answer to educations problems and shouldn't be treated as such, but they do present several valuable qualities that could make them a better learning method. First they're far more interactive and allow for more intermediate feedback, to the extent that a program can give a student instantaneous feedback as they work a math problem. It also makes it easy to present alternative learning methods. Some people find it helpful in learning if they're hearing something spoken to them rather than reading it. Others like visual examples and a tablet is capable of providing a more customized experience than a textbook. Even now tablets are still in their infancy and I can't even imagine the kinds of improvements we'll see over the next few decades. That said, they still won't motivate a student who doesn't care to learn, or fix other shortcomings in the education system.

ipads in the classroom (5, Insightful)

Cute Fuzzy Bunny (2234232) | about 2 years ago | (#39566925)

As I've pointed out in other threads, I work in a school where we're slashing budgets but somehow can afford to buy ipads for all the classrooms. Sadly, the ipad isnt well integrated into the curriculum, there isnt an IT strategy or plan nor people to do something if there were one. Waste of money.

Creativity? Sure. We had etch-a-sketches for that sort of thing, and play doh and finger paints. Seems they're just electronic versions of the same.

Agreed but is there research? (1)

craigminah (1885846) | about 2 years ago | (#39566927)

I'd love some actual research but I also feel electronics does cause kids to be less patient and require more stimula/instant gratification than "back in the day".

pencil and paper (0)

amunds0n (2562195) | about 2 years ago | (#39566983)

pencil and paper is still pretty useful when it comes to learning... there needs to be some exposure to learning technology, but most kids are not going to need to learn a lesson on the iPad. They will get enough electronic experience from video games, phones, etc. that they will already be experts. I'd rather see them learn with pencil and paper because they won't be getting as much of that in other areas of their lives.

Autism? Seriously? (1)

yanom (2512780) | about 2 years ago | (#39567011)

I understand that this might cause ADD, but when will these idiots learn that autism begins in the womb? It's not from tablets, it's not from vaccines, it's genetic.

Autism!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39567281)

Whatever 'expert' suggested tablet usage could lead to autism should have their credentials revoked.

Re:Autism!? (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567951)

It's doubtful they even have credentials.

Yes, because (1)

s0nicfreak (615390) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567345)

kids want to use them, and there are lots of games that make learning fun. Whenever a kid wants to do something and it is fun, they are a lot more likely to learn from it. It will only cause ADD in the sense that if a kid is sitting still using a tablet most of the day, they aren't going to want to sit still and listen to a teacher talk for the rest of the day; and maybe if they realize there are better ways to learn, they are going to see the absurdity of the way most schools do things.

Look at adults first. (4, Interesting)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567377)

We observe clear addictive behavior in adults who use the Internet to consume media. Being able to carry the Internet with you on your phone or tablet obviously exaggerates these effects. So you really should be asking yourself, does it make sense to not only expose, but force, children to use devices that clearly lead to addictive patterns of behavior when used by adults?

I own a tablet, and I find that I can no longer entertain myself effectively by reading a book. Instead of grabbing a book I impulsively reach for the tablet. Instead of sitting down for two hours to work on something in a concentrated way, I find myself becoming distracted regularly and goofing off with the tablet. My wife and I both exhibit these addictions and we will often sit on opposite sides of the house, isolated, browsing random shit online. Yes, a computer can do all these things but you don't sit at a computer 24/7 (well, most people don't). With a phone or tablet it's trivial to carry the addictive substance with you everywhere you go.

I allow my older son to use the tablet for about five minutes per day. And even that is perhaps too much. When it's time to stop, he gets combative and irritable. It reminds me a lot of how I used to behave when I couldn't smoke a cigarette. The only way you could not notice that this is a bad thing is if your head is up your ass.

No, we should not be exposing children to this any more than necessary, and we should definitely not REQUIRE it!

Re:Look at adults first. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39568059)

Five minutes a day, and maybe too much?? And he becomes irritable??
I beg you to re-evaluate your opinion on all this.
There is a big probability that you are doing a big disservice to your kid and that you are antagonizing him. That can't be good neither for you neither for him.

Now do as you want, I'm only a 50 years old father of two.

Technology? Not black and white (1)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567395)

Does any technology help children learn? The answer is always, it depends on how you use it.

Apple is dead (1)

speedc0re (744562) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567647)

I guess they really are dead, if they have to resort to spamming us with ads on slashdot.

Tablets are for teens+ (1)

LoverOfJoy (820058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567693)

Tablets are okay for teens but my younger children prefer chewables.

Author of "Alone Together" might have predicted it (1)

ivi (126837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567795)

I'll let the author speak for herself.
(I haven't read her book, as yet):

+ http://www.ted.com/speakers/sherry_turkle.html [ted.com]

(Her talk is under 19 min's in length.)

A crutch (1)

koan (80826) | more than 2 years ago | (#39567819)

Why learn it if you can always look it up, that's what I see happening to my friends and I, we tend to look up things on our that we used to know, for some reason the information stored is fading.

A topic which parallels this one closely... (5, Informative)

Pollux (102520) | more than 2 years ago | (#39568145)

When I first got into teaching, I got in towards the late-end of a district's adoption into an all "leftist" exploratory K-12 math curriculum. I'm sure most of you are familiar with at least one series that falls into this category. We had "Math Investigations" in grades K-5, "CMP" 6-8, and Core-Plus 9-12. The core concept of this series was that teachers were not supposed to teach rote-learning of math facts. Calculators would supplant that "old-fashioned" method of learning. Kids grew up learning how to "explore" math, rather than memorize addition & multiplication tables, practice procedures repeatedly, and churn out page after page of "drill n' kill" problems.

I got these kids in high school. When we ended Core Plus and reverted back to a traditional textbook, they couldn't do 40% of what you would find in an Algebra I textbook, because they did not have these basic math facts. They couldn't divide, so they couldn't factor. They couldn't calculate powers, so they couldn't understand square roots. They could not see patterns in numbers, because they had never learned to calculate. When they let the calculator do all the calculations, their brain never stopped to watch the patterns that were emerging.

Now we want to give iPads to kindergartners. Has anyone stopped to think about what basic skill sets we'll be depriving these children of that we adults take for granted? The ones we take them for granted because we grew up w/o iPads to impede learning basic skills...skills like social interaction, self regulation, dialog and public speaking... Forgive me, it's been a while since I've studied child psychology, but there's a significant amount of neurological development that occurs in elementary school and continues on though middle and high school. Has anyone really stopped to examine and consider the long-term effects of significant exposure to this technology, especially at such young ages?

I may have grown up with a computer, as well as most slashdot readers out there. But it's mere empirical evidence to say, "Look at me, I turned out fine." (Besides, your concept of "fine" may include living in your parent's basement at the age of 35.) Are there any real studies (rather than some questionable poll) that have examined this subject?

A lot of people I went to college used tablets (1)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 2 years ago | (#39568387)

to help them learn. Oh, you meant tablet computers, not a couple of No-Doz :)
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