Why the iPad is an Investment in Your Child’s Future

Ben Bajarin / January 19th, 2012

Whether or not Apple uses this positioning, it is perhaps one of the best angles for the iPad. When friends, family, colleagues, or anyone who asks me, asks for my recommendation about iPad, I always add the benefit to kids – if they have them.

From the first iPad, and ever since, I have marveled at how my kids have taken to the iPad and more importantly how I have been able to use very helpful apps to assist in building critical skills. My kids both used the digital version of the popular “Bob Books” to help them prepare to read for kindergarten. I have been able to find apps at nearly every level of their education to let them engage more with relevant age-based subject matter.

I can say with conviction that the iPad has helped my kids learn to identify objects, colors, learn to read, build critical observational and critical thinking skills and more. This is not to say they could not have built these skills without the iPad, of course they could, only that the iPad has made the process more engaging, fun, and natural.

Touch Computing is the Future
When I was young, everyone was pushing to teach kids how to type as well as overall computer literacy. If you think about it, touch computing as well as things like the iPad in general, make computer literacy instant. My kids didn’t need to go sit through computer literacy classes to start using an iPad and begin computing. They picked it up and from day one used it to its full potential – for them. I would argue this is the case with any age group.

I have written extensively on the subject of touch computing, constantly highlighting its importance to our computing future. I believe touch represents the most natural computing paradigm, along with speech computing (which has not fully come to fruition). Touch breaks down traditional barriers to computing that a mouse and keyboard had traditionally created. Mouse and keyboard computing paradigms are still relevant, but have been designated to task specific usage.

Although touch computing is natural, exposing children to it at a young age will set their expectations for computing higher and potentially help create the next generation of leaders. Growing up with touch computing as the driving computer paradigm will lay an important base for our children’s future.

Related Columns Mentioned:
Why Tablets Represent the Future of Computing – at TIME.com
From Click to Touch – iPad and the Era of Touch Computing – At SlashGear.com

Re-Inventing The Book
Today Apple took that truth one step further with their announcement of iBooks 2 and the Author toolset. Today’s announcement on the surface is re-inventing the textbook and providing next generation publishing tool kits. It is however, quite a bit more. This announcement lays the foundation for the complete and total re-invention of books in general.

Up to this point, I have been disappointed with the publishing industries strategy to simply re-purpose books in e-reading form. Last year I wrote about the need to re-invent the book and to date it still hasn’t happened.

Hopefully with the toolkits Apple has developed and will continue to develop, publishers will get savvy and start being more creative with how they create package content. Which is essentially all a book is—the packaging of content. This packaging of content was limited to static words on a page, but with iPad the packaging of content is taken to a new level.

Publishers will get disrupted if they do not embrace this wholly and quickly. What is to stop smart people with a great idea to create the next era of interactive books? If the publishing industry is not careful, they could face the same fate as the music industry but perhaps to an even bigger extent.

Interactive books are the future and the iPad is the perfect platform for them to thrive. We will soon hopefully have not only next generation text books, but next generation children’s books, novels, graphic novels, biographies, and more.

For now, I intend to purchase these new interactive books for my kids and get them engaging with educational content. Since I truly do believe that having them use the iPad and integrating it into their educational routine is an investment in their future.

Related Columns Mentioned:
Re-Inventing the Book in the Digital Age – at SlashGear

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio
  • RyanNT137

    When you raise children on an iPad, what you’re seeing is reception to stimuli. It’s natural; moving things with sounds distract us, much as they would any dog or cat. However, those children will find it harder, at some point in their development, to focus on static sources of information. This includes reading chapter books (which, given society’s current literacy standards, is probably no loss) and reels of statistics or technical instruction.

    I’m not talking about intelligence; simply that the use of excessive stimuli diminishes internal discipline; the ability to “lock on” and process a cold medium. It makes children easier to distract and dissuade. If you compare a child raised on an iPad to one raised with print, it’s easy to guess which one is going to sit down and read Kundera, and which is will never progress beyond Twilight.

    • chano

      But then reading is a strictly linear method of capturing information. It allows no deviation from its linear structure. The mind does not work like that. The mind works by the association of ideas through which it synthesises a map for every topic and from these interlinking maps comes an ever-growing understanding.
      The book form has been a wonderful vehicle for storing and retrieving information in a simple linear form, but it never served the natural preferences for information acquisition that our brains are wired to use. The book will gradually diminish in importance in the coming decades as non-linear methods develop for presenting us with information in ways that appeal to our ‘wiring’. What this means imho, is that the art of disseminating information, and therefore the art learning will both take a massive, quantum leap forward. In that sense, book-based learning systems have held us back by forcing us to plod through the slow linear path to knowledge acquisition.
      I could write 10,000 words describing to you how the internal combustion engine works. There is no guarantee that you will have a deep understanding of the subject by the end. Alternatively I could assemble a 500 word article that flows around interactive diagrams that show what the components are and how they all fit together in a simple engine. Then all it would take is a one minute video showing the workings of the four cycles of a typical four-stroke engine.
      Which is better?
      Which method takes us much further, much faster?
      Which method is easier to use and learn from?

      I love physical books. I am an unashamed bookaholic. However, I have come to realise that this basic technology, which dates back to pre-Biblical times, is rapidly approaching its ‘sell-by-date.’ If you think about it in terms of its fitness for its purpose (to disseminate information) it will be a good thing if the typical book format and its linear learning discipline dies. It has served us well, but it’s time is up.

      Thanks for an interesting article Ben.

      chano

      • mhikl

        Good points all around.
        Our species made the jump from spoken stories to those on paper, and we have survived and flourished. The same will happen with the changes made by the iPad. I remember in a class a young boy becoming excited and saying the images were jumping before his eyes as I read a chapter from our class novel. Such images did not jump when he had to read a chapter on his own though they did for other students. Such is individuality. Rarely do we take time for children to memorise poetry and lesser they may be for it. But that does not preclude the enlightened parent and teacher from continuing traditions upon which our cultures are built. The iPad is not a substitute for all things traditional but it sure adds colour to the environment of learning.

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