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Smart Generation ColourResearch conducted by the Office of Educational Technology in Washington, DC over the course of the last three years has revealed that the use of learning-based software (which can be accessed on computers and devices such as tablets) among children aged between one and eight results in several benefits.
They include:

Improved motor skills. Pressing keys and handling a mouse helps develop motor skills and eye-hand coordination among children, which are essential for most physical activities ranging from sports to driving. Furthermore, using levers and switches and witnessing the outcome of their ‘actions’, sparks curiosity and instils confidence among children when rewarded with flashing lights and animated characters.

Overcoming learning difficulties. By encouraging digital activities, parents can help children to explore websites and use programmes that aid language development, letter recognition and phonetic skills. Text to speech and speech recognition software is especially beneficial for dyslexic children. Additionally, encouraging children to use online graphic organisers enhances comprehension and writing skills.

Enhancing conceptual abilities. Observing sequences and graphic representations of fractions and percentages as virtual animations helps develop conceptual knowledge of mathematics. Similarly, visualising scientific processes in virtual laboratories and going on virtual field trips not only engages children’s minds but also provides them with the unique opportunity of being part of projects that would otherwise be too expensive or unsafe to undertake.

However, while technology helps develop communication skills, manual dexterity and problem-solving skills, The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends that children under the age of five should not spend more than two hours a day in front of a screen.

Therefore, while you should encourage your children to reap the benefits of technology, ensure that they do not miss out on “old fashioned” outdoor activities such as making sandcastles, stacking blocks or taking their cycle out for a spin.

– Dr Samia Babar
The writer is Director, Health Awareness Society.

First published in the ADBUZZZZ Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on August 17, 2014.