Saturday, June 5, 2010

PBS Apps and Building Young Brains

Maybe the kids really are all right.

A recent study by the broccoli and asparagus of children’s programming, PBS Kids, found educational benefits in young children’s use of gaming apps. The study showed that children ages 3 to 7 who played with the PBS app Martha Speaks, based on the popular TV cartoon, showed an improvement in their vocabulary by as much as 31 percent. PBS Kids announced initial results of research studying the educational benefits of mobile gaming apps in conjunction with the 7th Annual Games for Change Festival in New York.

"Mobile apps can be a great learning tool in the hands of children," Lesli Rotenberg, senior vice president of children's media for PBS, says in their press release. "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."

A story on CNET says the study provides real evidence that iPhone and iPod games may not be rotting kids' brains. That is, so long as the apps they’re looking at are educational. And that is the key for parents perplexed by how to navigate through the vast wilderness of iPod Touch, iPhone, iPad, and Android applications.

Just as Mom and Dad have to decide between Elmo vs. the Power Rangers when allowing some TV time, the same goes for choosing quality apps. Junior can spend his time blowing up monsters in mindless games, or he can focus on learning to name shapes, colors, and patterns in engaging new ways.

As with every other medium kids consume -- books, movies, TV shows, websites, and video games -- there is plenty of trash out there. And PBS, thankfully, seems to be leading the way once again, helping parents make good use of all these portable, app-based gadgets.

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