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Apps can make kids smarter

As any parent with an iPhone or an iPod Touch knows, mobile apps can be an engaging and entertaining experience for kids. Now, a new study courtesy of PBS Kids suggests that the experience can be an educational one as well.

The study, which was administered by PBS under a grant from the Department of Education, first tested the vocabulary level of a group of 90 Title 1 school children, ages 3 to 7. Then, the children were each given two weeks with an iPod Touch loaded with the Martha Speaks Dog Party app created by PBS Kids.

The study monitored how the children used the iPod, during what hours, and in what context. A call-in voice mailbox was also established so that parents could relate any anecdotes or observations about their child's time with the device.

On average, the study found that kids played with the iPod Touch for a total of 5 hours across the two weeks, with half that time spent playing the Martha Speaks app. It's important to note that the study didn't require kids to play with the device or the app – all play was self-initiated.

At the end of the two week trial, the children were given another vocabulary test, which revealed an increase in vocabulary acquisition by as much as 31 percent.

The study findings are particularly relevant as smartphones and mobile devices have become increasingly popular among families and parents are faced with a proliferation of mobile apps designed for kids.  According to a recent Nielsen study, smartphone usage is 12% higher in households with children than other households.

"Mobile apps can be a great learning tool in the hands of children," said Lesli Rotenberg, SVP, Children's Media, PBS.  "This research is important in helping to better understand and guide the development of new apps that improve the value of children's screen time with significant educational outcomes."

So what does it all mean? Well, at the very least it will help parents get over that guilty feeling when they hand over their iPhone or iPod Touch for a little peace and quiet. (So long as you have downloaded the right apps, that is.) At best, it's more evidence that mobile devices and apps do indeed have educational value and could be an important part of the child-learning process for many years to come.



Comments:
Comment by Khianny , posted 10/15/2012, 12:52 AM:

this is very helpful
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