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A Year with the iPad 2

It has been ONE YEAR since I started this blog! I set out to document my daughter’s interactions with the iPad 2 from ages 12-24 months. Along the way, I casually reported on her emerging skills related to memory, problem-solving, fine-motor, and language. I have no scientific conclusion to report; we just had a lot of fun! It melts my heart to see the look of accomplishment on her sweet face when she masters a new task—sometimes it comes after pint-sized fits of frustration, but the hard is what makes it great. Am I right, Jimmy Dugan?

We discovered several well-made iPad apps that aided her skill development, and we also discovered a lot of duds. Aside from about $10 worth of regrettable purchases, I deem this journey a great success! We’ll continue to use the iPad 2 to discover new things beyond infancy and toddlerhood. Goodbye, Digital Baby.

Here’s to a great year with the iPad 2:

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Digital Toddler

Stella is almost two years old! I’m starting to reflect on the last year and marveling at how much of a little girl she has become since we started “Digital Baby!” Here are a few recent snippets that especially remind me of how simple iPad apps that we started playing months ago still resonate in her daily activities today:

Repeat After Me: ABC

Stella’s 18 month appointment with her pediatrician is coming up, so I decided to quickly jot down all of the words that she says so that I’d have a ballpark figure. Once I started writing, I almost couldn’t stop. I easily filled up a page worth 65 80+ (see update below) words—words that she regularly says on her own without any prompting from me. (A widely-known benchmark at this age is 20, but it’s common for kids to have much fewer or much more without any indication for concern or pretense.) She also strings a few of them together; her favorite phrases are, “Kick it,” “Where-da-go?”, and “Hi, baby!

Obviously I can’t credit the iPad for everything Stella does. After all, she does get to spend a lot of one-on-one time with me, and she has a phenomenal daycare provider, where she is also surrounded by a 4-year-old boy, from whom she learns a lot.

However, I can’t diminish the iPad’s role in her learning environment either. Not only have I seen some amazing apps with excellent educational value, but I also think the iPad itself has given us a reason to sit down and interact with each other more than we might have without it. We take walks, read physical books, and build blocks together, but what I mean is that the iPad removes the burden of creating both educational content and context, which makes the learning process so much more accessible. For example, I don’t think I would have taken the time to create physical flash cards, let alone keep her interested enough to practice them daily. The iPad just works.

Now that she has started repeating EVERYTHING anyone says, the ABC app has been really fun for me to watch. Most of the time she repeats the letters without my prompting. How cool is this?

Remember, the purpose of my blog is not to make claims one way or another, although I have an obvious bias toward both my daughter and my iPad! I’m simply exploring a new technology that hasn’t been available to us before, so I’m not judging against an alternate approach. What parents do with their children’s educational experience is their own business—I’ve just chosen to share mine along the way.

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UPDATE: We were way off with our estimate. As the week went on—and now conscious of counting her words—there were easily 30-40 more that we missed. I’d estimate that she is well over 100 and into the 120s. According to BabyCenter, this is very common for 19-24 months: “[Your child’s] pace will pick up as he acquires ten or more new words each day. If he’s especially focused on learning to talk, he can add a new word to his vocabulary every 90 minutes — so watch your language!”

I’ll Take it from Here, Mom

I first discovered the Choo Choo Time app from Jason Huber, who runs KidsiPhoneAppReview.com. (See his Choo Choo Time app review here.)

When Stella was 6-12 months old, I would often launch this app on my iPhone to entertain her in the waiting rooms of doctor’s offices and such. She liked to watch the scenery go by, and she got a kick out of the sounds whenever I’d tap the various creatures for her. Now that she’s more independent, she has learned to interact with the app on her own! It has been so fun to witness her transition from passive observer to active participant. Yes, she even makes a barking noise when she taps the dog, although with her pacifier it comes out more like a whimper. 🙂

(The neon glow that appears in the video happens sometimes when I record from the iPad 2. Anyone know why? I’m guessing it’s time for an iOS update.)

Baby-Silencer

Not necessarily related to language development, Stella took a break from flash cards to explore the Baby-Silencer app by jolly1312. (Hey jolly, the link to your web site is broken.) This app is designed for younger babies with less mobility than Stella (3-6 months), who like to focus on and track small objects. Although the visuals are great, the app does not include sound. (At one point, Stella actually leaned in to listen for something! That is, until she became more interested in the case than the device.) You can upgrade sound effects by navigating through some strange point system—one that involves installing other apps to earn credits—but it looked painful. I would’ve rather paid the customary $.99 for the upgrade had that been an option. Considering the target audience for this app is a presumably a busy parent with an infant, the scavenger-hunt-upgrade-path seems to miss the mark.