Can you turn screen time into family time? Our new resource, Family Time with Apps: A Guide to Using Apps with Your Kids, provides tips on how apps can be a part of family learning, communication and connecting to one another. Starting today, it is available to download for free from the iBook store.
The guide is an extension of our research on how families use and learn from media. From Learning: Is there an app for that? to Learning at home: Families’ educational media use in America, we have explored how new forms of digital media are influencing young children and their families. In particular, we’re interested in “The New Co-Viewing,” or the idea that when families enjoy and interact with media together, they benefit more. While the medium may be relatively new, the concept is firmly rooted in the landmark study of our founder Joan Ganz Cooney.
The new Family Time with Apps guide offers its own opportunity for “co-viewing” by providing kid-friendly comic strips to show situations where using apps as a family is better than playing alone. Whether the challenge is preparing for a new experience like starting school, spending more time outside, connecting to distant loved ones, or reading together every day, the guide provides tips on how using apps together can support a child’s learning and development. Even playing games together can be a chance to grow, by helping children to practice good decision-making skills (not to mention the fun they have by being the expert in the family). The guide also shares strategies for how to establish a good routine for using apps and how to select apps that are best for your family.
Many parents struggle with the decision of whether, when and how to introduce apps to their children. For my own young daughter, I am constantly amazed and still a little wary of the power that apps can hold. Our own parents may have had similar questions about the effects of television, but without the prevalence that comes with being available any time and anywhere—including on the bus, at the park or at the dinner table. We hope that this new resource offers useful research-based tips, while supporting those time-honored parents’ instincts that help us all navigate family time with media.