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Goodnight iPhone...

Parents turn to smartphones for bedtime stories

By Nicole Freeman

There are now over 185,000 apps available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and the newly unveiled iPad.

The 20 different categories included in the App Store cover everything from games to travel to finance to health. But two increasingly popular categories are books and education – and one of the main driving forces behind those two categories is kids.

Kids have always been huge fans of the iPhone and are sure to be a big factor behind sales of the new iPad. But when it comes to many of the most popular books and educational apps, we are not just talking about the tweens and teens market; instead, many of the apps are specifically designed for very young kids, many of them younger than five.

As we can safely assume that the majority of toddlers don't own smartphones, it's clear that an increasing number of parents are regarding their iPhones and Touches as pre-school entertainment and education tools.

A quick look at the App Store best-sellers lists supports the analysis. Of the top 50 educational apps, almost 40% are for pre-schoolers, including basic alphabet and counting games, and a host of Flash Card apps from companies like Kindergarten.com and iToT Apps.

The iPhone has also revolutionized the world of children's books. Along with dozens of offerings from established publishers like Scholastic and Disney, a host of newer companies are utilizing the touchscreen technology and audio capability to bring to life old favorites and create wonderful new adventures.

Duck Duck Moose regularly makes the Top 50 with updated versions of Wheels on the Bus, Itsy Bitsy Spider and other classics, while the beautifully illustrated and narrated iStoryTime series of books have been specifically created for kids aged two and up.  

Although some child care specialists may still have misgivings about using smartphones as electronic pacifiers, parents have quickly discovered that there is far more to the devices than that. The same specialists have always stressed that reading to a child was one of the best forms of early education. If the iPhone and the iPad can help, then that has to be a good thing.

Is reading from a smartphone the same as reading from a book? Can children become too dependent on electronic devices at too young an age? Share your thoughts with The Online Mom!


Comment by Elisabeth Prial, posted 4/28/2010, 9:01 PM:

I wholeheartedly agree! I’ve been working in the children's publishing industry for almost 30 years, and am convinced that the reading experience can be enhanced through these devices allowing for a greater parent-child experience. Digital devises don’t replace a book but offer an alternative type of publishing that expands the market of potential readers.
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