Emily Lloyd
Hi. I’m Emily.
I work in a library with kids.
Maybe you’ve noticed the web buzzing
this week with the news that
The Campai...
headlines from web 8/13-3/14
1. Marketing anything,
any thing—
app, video, book, toy, miracle elixir—
with the claim that it alone will
“make babies sm...
An important
and useful conversation
about early literacy
and exploring apps with babies
is shut down, though,
when media ...
…to the idea
that apps are inherently
“bad for babies”
and can never be
effective tools
for reading, writing,
playing, sin...
It’s true:
Babies, left alone with tablets or phones
loaded with apps, will not magically
learn the alphabet…
…any more th...
What babies need
in order to learn (most things)
is (in-person) people.
On their own, babies can learn about taste and tex...
No one* is suggesting that babies be left alone
with machines to be “educated”—
not even Open Solutions:
*other than Teddy...
“Educational apps…however
well-meaning, do not take into account
how babies learn. Babies learn through
interaction, touch...
Back up…“Babies learn through
interaction, touching…and doing the
same thing over and over again”?
There’s an app
(even se...
What follows is a selection of free apps
that—like age-appropriate board books—
do take into account how babies learn.
The...
My First App by INBAL Tal
Babies are fascinated by photos of other babies. The first screen-grab
above is the main “page” ...
Peekaboo HD
You see hay bales
with tiny glimpses of an
animal peeking out from
behind them.
You hear the hidden
animal mak...
ClickLights123
You tap a “button” (you can, or baby can) and hear a sound
like a light switch flicking on or off. The butt...
Finger Paint
with Sounds
You tap a color and scribble
with your finger. Each color
makes a different sound--or
you can cho...
Barnyard Friends Free
There are two keyboards.
One makes piano sounds
and makes the animal
just above the pressed key
jump...
TinyTap
This app is as fantastic
as the grown-up in
baby’s life makes it.
It helps said grown-up
quickly and easily make
s...
My A-Z
Like TinyTap, this app needs to be prepared for baby by her parents or
caregivers. My A-Z is really “just” a photo ...
More on My A-Z : use this app to easily
make alphabet cards with your own
images. You can record up to 30
seconds of audio...
This is happening. So when caregivers ask us, as librarians
and early educators, for app recommendations for the
under-2 s...
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Apps & Babies: Keeping Our Heads (and our iPads)

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Apps & Babies: Keeping Our Heads (and our iPads)

  1. 1. Emily Lloyd
  2. 2. Hi. I’m Emily. I work in a library with kids. Maybe you’ve noticed the web buzzing this week with the news that The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is urging the Federal Exchange Commission to look into the marketing practices of two companies that make apps targeted to babies, Fisher-Price and Open Solutions. They’re also arguing that apps can’t be effective educational tools for babies. Are they right? Research is scant (apps simply haven’t been around very long). Opinions and alarmist headlines aren’t…
  3. 3. headlines from web 8/13-3/14
  4. 4. 1. Marketing anything, any thing— app, video, book, toy, miracle elixir— with the claim that it alone will “make babies smart[er]” is irresponsible and unfounded. My feeling? The CCFC is right on two counts: 2. (Less importantly), Fisher Price’s “Laugh & Learn” apps aren’t good apps for babies (or anyone).* *I haven’t yet explored any apps by Open Solutions. Try some of Fisher-Price’s, free: Let's Count Animals, Shapes & Colors
  5. 5. An important and useful conversation about early literacy and exploring apps with babies is shut down, though, when media outlets (and some librarians) leap from here…
  6. 6. …to the idea that apps are inherently “bad for babies” and can never be effective tools for reading, writing, playing, singing, and talking together* with them. *the five practices of early literacy: more here (and lots of other places))
  7. 7. It’s true: Babies, left alone with tablets or phones loaded with apps, will not magically learn the alphabet… …any more than they will magically learn the alphabet if left alone with a basket of board books.
  8. 8. What babies need in order to learn (most things) is (in-person) people. On their own, babies can learn about taste and texture from books (or iPads) by mouthing and touching them. Beyond that, the value for babies in books (or apps) arrives when babies explore them together with another person. They’ll especially benefit if this person points to the images, asks questions, and talks and gestures animatedly while exploring.
  9. 9. No one* is suggesting that babies be left alone with machines to be “educated”— not even Open Solutions: *other than Teddy Ruxpin "We agree that screen models do not replace live models as social partners. We also don't say ‘get this game and let it teach your child to read, write and talk in five languages.’ "We assume children (especially the youngest) are playing the game with a parent/babysitter,etc.” --statement to Mashable, 8/9/13
  10. 10. “Educational apps…however well-meaning, do not take into account how babies learn. Babies learn through interaction, touching, feeling, grabbing, moving, and doing the same thing over and over again.” --Rachel G. Payne, SLJ.com, 8/9/2013 As a librarian, reading over the various articles covering the CCFC story, I think the statement that frustrates me the most is the below, from another librarian writing an article (not a comment, an article) on School Library Journal’s website—
  11. 11. Back up…“Babies learn through interaction, touching…and doing the same thing over and over again”? There’s an app (even several developmentally- appropriate good ones) for that.
  12. 12. What follows is a selection of free apps that—like age-appropriate board books— do take into account how babies learn. They’re all free, so please explore them to get a feel for what age-appropriate apps for babies look like. (One or two do have ads. If you like them, you should buy them— the CCFC is also right that ads aren’t appropriate for babies). These apps • are simple, not busy or intricate • do only one or two things • don’t contain passive animated or video segments • often focus on contrasts As with age-appropriate board books, these apps should always ideally (and certainly initially) be explored together with babies.
  13. 13. My First App by INBAL Tal Babies are fascinated by photos of other babies. The first screen-grab above is the main “page” of this app. If you tap on the smiling face, you see one of a number of photos of happy babies and hear them make happy sounds. If you tap on the unhappy face, you get the opposite. That’s it.
  14. 14. Peekaboo HD You see hay bales with tiny glimpses of an animal peeking out from behind them. You hear the hidden animal make a noise. You tap the hay bales, and the animal is revealed. Choose English or Spanish in the settings.
  15. 15. ClickLights123 You tap a “button” (you can, or baby can) and hear a sound like a light switch flicking on or off. The button changes color. Sometimes there are fewer buttons. Sometimes there are more buttons.
  16. 16. Finger Paint with Sounds You tap a color and scribble with your finger. Each color makes a different sound--or you can choose “music” so each plays a different musical phrase. Baby might not be able to make many marks yet, but baby’s caregiver can draw shapes and talk about colors and sounds with him.
  17. 17. Barnyard Friends Free There are two keyboards. One makes piano sounds and makes the animal just above the pressed key jump. The other makes animal sounds. You can also tap animals in scenes. They move gently. Be sure to mute the distracting background music when not playing the keyboards.
  18. 18. TinyTap This app is as fantastic as the grown-up in baby’s life makes it. It helps said grown-up quickly and easily make simple tap “games” with his or her own photos and voice. [For example, the grown-up in this photo might record herself asking, “Where is Auntie’s mouth? Where is Baby’s mouth? Where is Auntie’s nose? Where is BABY’S nose?”]
  19. 19. My A-Z Like TinyTap, this app needs to be prepared for baby by her parents or caregivers. My A-Z is really “just” a photo app (and simply exploring a photo roll with baby should not be overlooked—that’s the best “app” there is!).
  20. 20. More on My A-Z : use this app to easily make alphabet cards with your own images. You can record up to 30 seconds of audio to go with each letter. Babies love the sight of their loved ones’ faces and the sound of their loved ones’ voices. You can make several alphabet sets, and a great first one will include faces and familiar friends like “loveys” and pets. As baby grows and explores more of his world, add “Around the Neighborhood” and “At the Store” decks, and so on. The publisher, Night & Day Studios, was thoughtful to give 30 seconds’ worth of recording time per image. Don’t waste it by simply repeating the word you’ve typed. Make sounds; invent phrases! For example, for the above O card, you might say, “Oooh, Oooh, Oooh! Oh, Oh, Oh! Kellan got an OWIE and said Ouch, Ouch, Ouch!”
  21. 21. This is happening. So when caregivers ask us, as librarians and early educators, for app recommendations for the under-2 set, let’s work towards something more practical (and caregiver-friendly) than condemning all explorations of apps with babies— —let’s educate ourselves and caregivers around how to identify thoughtfully-designed, age-appropriate apps and focus our energies on the message that, like books, apps should be explored by caregivers and little ones together. In October 2013, Common Sense Media posted their finding that “38% of children under 2 have used a mobile device for media (compared to 10% two years ago).”* --Emily Lloyd

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