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Back to School: Toys or tools? Surprising side-effects of apps for kids

Some schools are seeing positive results in retention of knowledge through the use of tablets (KOKH)

Smart phones and tablets are becoming second nature to many of us, but for our children what is new to us will be normal for them.

Technology is becoming more common in classrooms, and children as young as pre-K are engaging through interactive apps. However how can you tell if an app your child loves is a toy or a tool for learning?

Many early education apps combine colorful stories and games with learning. This allows the children to interact with the lessons they previously only listened to.

“They digital natives so they really know how to use all of those apps, even better than their teachers do in some ways,” said Rev. Micah James of First Christian Church Edmond, “So they are learning their alphabet while learning a Bible story while they are listening and responding.

Reverend James says the iPads in classrooms at the First Christian Child Care Center are helping children learn and retain information, but there's also a surprising side effect.

“It is giving them a sense of self confidence that they can both access it themselves and it is kind of self-directed those skills on top of just the basics are making them even more confident and prepared,” James told FOX 25.

Apps can be a learning tool throughout school said MomRN host Tamara Walker

“There's a series of apps called teach me series, and they have different grade levels within those levels, such as reading, math, geography, science.”

Walker, a pediatric nurse who also blogs and speaks about all things family, told FOX 25 even apps that seem to be just games can help children learn more than just fun.

“For instance Minecraft,” Walker said, “Minecraft is very popular and parents that may not be familiar with it may just think that it is just a fun game, but it is very educational as well because kids are learning critical thinking skills, problem solving, they are learning about design, and architecture and they are learning that their choices they make in the game have an impact on the outcome.

Even the popular Pokémon Go has an educational application.

“You can use that to teach map reading skills,” Walker said, “Teach them geolocation, you teach them math through they have to add up the points.”

Walker said the key to using apps to unlock learning is parental involvement.

She added that parents need to monitor the amount of screen time your children experiences, so that they can spend time away from the devices to learn other important social skills.

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