This has been an ongoing debate. As kids use more and more technology, we’d like to believe that it is actually benefitting them in some way. In particular, educational apps are seeing an explosion in popularity, but are they really doing anything other than keeping our kids from asking, "Are we there yet?"
A recent study commissioned by developer Motion Math suggests that significant learning can occur with the right apps. In fact, kids who used their app for 20 minutes a day over a period of 5 days increased their test scores on the subject matter by 15% on average. That’s the difference between a B and an A+ student. Perhaps more significantly, the kids changed their attitudes on the subject matter as well. If you’ve ever had to teach something to a child, you know how much easier it is if it’s something they feel good about, rather than something they hate and think is a waste of time.
This is not to suggest that every app that claims to have educational value actually does, although many have "hidden" skill development built in. It still falls on us as parents to determine what works – and what doesn’t – for our kids. Then again, it’s OK to have some time that’s more about entertainment than education. After all, that’s what childhood is all about.