At a recent lunch at Guevara's with the SoMoms, we were introduced to a new, Philippine-made Android tablet made for kids aged 3-8 years old which was just recently introduced into the market - the Enlight KiddieTab.
Ergonomically designed, the Enlight KiddieTab is an 8-inch, HD-capable multi-touch Android tablet. The first thing I noticed was that it was covered in a yellow silicone non-toxic, ruggedized cover that gave a good grip to the tablet all over - perfect for small hands.
Slots are found on the upper right and right side of the tablet.
|Upper right slots (left: Back button; right: Volume button)|
|Righthand side slots: The single slot show on the left is for a micro SD card (up to 32GB)|
|Righthand side slots (L-R): AC connector slot, HDMI slot, USB slot, earpone slot, Power button)|
The Enlight KiddieTab runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. More than 100 learning and fun apps, suitable for kids from 3 to 8 years of age, come preloaded on the KiddieTab. Inside are interactive storybooks, songs, games, videos, and drawing apps. Unlike other similar kid tablets where you need to buy game cartridges to expand functionality, with the Enlight KiddieTab, you just need to download additional apps from the Google Play Store. Enlight KiddieTab comes with 512MB RAM and 8GB storage but a micro SD card slot lets you expand storage up to 32GB.
Are there real benefits to exposing young kids to digital devices?
Here are some concerns young moms normally voice out when asked their thoughts about digital devices for their young kids:
1. My kids may turn antisocial!
2. How do I control their time on it? I'm afraid they'd get hooked and develop poor study habits.
3. I am afraid they may surf and end up on unsafe websites.
A guest speaker at the Enlight KiddieTab event was renowned psychiatrist, Dra. Angela Halili-Jao, who happened to be a former head of child and adolescent psychiatry of the UP Manila College of Medicine-Philippine General Hospital, told us that studies have shown that under proper supervision and at the right age, young kids actually thrive and show greater gains in intelligence, structural knowledge, problem solving and language skills. She said that most parents who are uncertain about exposing their kids in early years to technology were themselves introduced to computers and programs much later in life.
|Dra. Angela Halili-Jao|
After seeing how her own grandchildren took to, and learned how to use a tablet ahead of her, and after reading several studies made, Dra. Halili-Jao is now convinced that TV, the internet and digital devices can be allies in child development. Studies have shown tech is an integral learning tool for young children. She cited notable studies such as Clements and Samara, 2003; Swaminathan and Wright, 2003; and Vernadakis etal, 2005 which showed that children who learned using digital technology showed greater gains in intelligence.
Here is a link also to a PDF document that I found online showing that young children became highly engaged and interested when interacting with a tablet. A few days ago, I saw a feature film on cable TV where autistic children became highly focused on iPads when these were given to them and actually learned to communicate with the outside world more effectively than if adults tried to communicate with them the ordinary way. Apparently, because tablets have predictable responses, unlike humans, autistic kids are drawn and attracted to them.
But, Dra. Halili-Jao emphasizes...there are conditions before young kids are exposed to digital devices:
1. Only children 3 years old and above should be exposed to digital technology.
2. Parents must always supervise their children when they are using these devices. A digital device is not a nanny; therefore it is imperative for parents to sit with their children while they use it in order to provide guidance and to moderate length of time.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the Kiddie Tab included parental controls and a time lock that lets you determine (from 15 minutes to 2 hours) how much time your child can play with the tablet. When the time expires, the tablet stops working.
See that tarsier on the lower right of the screen? Tapping that brings up a window that asks for the parent's password. If it is keyed in correctly, the Kiddie Tab apps close and the tablet opens up into the Parent Mode so that the parent can use it as a regular tablet, including the ability to access his/her own apps and social media networks as well as surf the net.
|A password is needed to exit the kiddie menu and access the Parent Mode|
|The Enlight KiddieTab in Parent Mode|
Enlight Kiddie Tab (from Lifeware Technology Inc.)
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/Kiddietab