The iPad According to Twitter

With the recent release of the iPad 2, I was not at all surprised when Catherine suggested that I write this week’s blog about kids and the iPad. Considering the bulk of work we’ve been doing in the area of kids and apps, I thought this would be an easy topic. But when I actually sat down to write, I found it difficult to settle on a niche. In the last few months in The New York Times alone, David Pogue discussed a parent’s struggles around letting his children use such devices, Warren Buckleitner did an excellent summary on why the iPad is such a great device for kids, and there was a fantastic article about the iPad in schools. With the topic of kids and iPads getting so much press, what could I write about that hadn’t already been covered?

As I was thinking of an angle, I decided to check out Twitter. And that’s when an interesting idea occurred to me. What does the Twitter community have to say about kids and the iPad? So I searched for the terms “kids” and “iPad”, and it turned out that in the past 24 hours there were 441 tweets (not including retweets) that contain these two words. What I found was all at once overwhelming, inspirational, and entertaining.

Tweeters had a lot to say, ranging from the amusing (“Honey, the kids are playing with my iPad again. They don’t allow me to use it at all. Can I get the new iPad 2?”) to the insightful (“Special purpose communication devices for Autistic kids run from $3K-$10K. Many can’t afford them. iPad + $200 app is cheaper AND better.”) Though the tweets clearly varied widely, they did seem to fall into systematic categories:

The parents looking for advice:

  • – “You know any good #kids apps for #ipad for my 3 year old daughter?? Any help appreciated :-)”
  • – “We are using a brilliant App called MusicStudio, has anyone else used this with kids?”
  • – “How do educational apps on android compare to apple ones?”

The parents giving advice:

  • – “Do you have kids who love dinosaurs? National Geographic releases Ultimate Dinopedia app for the iPad.”
  • – “Nice iPad 2 overview, though I disagree about capacity if you have kids. My kids fill all 64GB with video for road-trips easy.”
  • – “A kindle it is…kids would spend all day arguing over who can use the iPad anyway ;)”

The naysayers:

  • – “Do kids really need books on iPad? What about the power of their imagination!”
  • – “People can’t feed their kids healthy food, but got them an iPad 2?”
  • – “Hates little kids that have an iPhone and an iPad and they’re 7years old. I got my first shitty, brick phone when I was 11.”

The idealists:

  • – “I bet kids in music school don’t need to haul around tuners, metronomes or stacks of music anymore. They just use an iPhone or iPad. Lucky!”
  • – “iPad worth the hype? Here is why we love it so much. It’s opened up a new world for my 2 kids.”
  • – “Ppl laughed at me when my 6yr old got an iPad for her birthday, but now she knows all 50 states by shape a geography and their kids don’t.”

The educators:

  • – “Hanging out with #SFU education professor emerita Selma Wasserman as she demos a new iPad app that helps kids learn to read. Very cool.”
  • – “See app for iPad – parent/ teachers read an electronic book to kids. Would work for ELLS.”
  • – “B&N Adds Nook Kids iPad App.”

The ones I don’t understand:

  • – “Ipad! We hebben er ook één!!! Leuk voor ons en voor de kids.”
  • – “これかわいすぎる…!!「【子供iPhoneiPadkidsアプリ】HamTouch!癒し系リアルなハムスター飼育 3/16まで115円”
  • – “De kids luisteren wel vooral via iPad, veelal YouTube. Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, dat soort dingen :-)”

The social commentators:

  • – “The six-floor flagship Shanghai Barbie store is officially closed. Kids would rather play with an ipad.”
  • – “Anyone even TRYING to compete with the IPad should just lower their prices and pray that parents are too cheap to get their kids a real one.”
  • – “My kids would rather watch a movie huddled around the iPad vs. spread out on the couch in front of the flat panel TV. You win, Steve.”
  • – “Those speaking about iPad specs are those that were born with the PC. My kids don’t care about specs. They care about apps.”

The people trying to sell something:

  • – “Little Scribes: Bible Flash Cards is now available on the App Store! For iPhone and iPad! Your kids will thank you! “
  • – “Do you have an iPad? Do you have kids? Here’s a great digital kids book for you.”
  • – “The Crayola ColorStudio HD – iMarker and iPad App for Kids”
  • – “Bilingual, fun, educational #app for #iPhone #iPad teaches kids ABCs, numbers & more.”

While this exercise provided me with (too many) hours of amusement, I actually think that these groupings provide a telling cultural snapshot on the topic of kids and iPads. There are parents looking for advice and parents giving it. There are the naysayers who think the idea of kids using iPads is ridiculous, and the idealists who think the iPad could change the world. There are those trying to use the new technology to educate. There’s stuff I don’t understand and commentary on what this all really means. There’s a whole bunch of people trying to sell stuff. And there have been 43 new tweets on kids and apps since I started writing this blog.


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Photo by novemberwolf on Flickr

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