Mobile devices and tablets are becoming more common in our lives and also in our children’s lives. As commented “babies are not born with a bread under their arms … but with a digital screen”. The use of these devices, almost always connected to the network, is growing in families.
Children have been using these devices since they were 2 years old, not only before going to school, as was the case with traditional media, but before they started talking or walking, in the sensory-motor phase of development. Parallel to the use of interactive content, the offer of Apps for pre-school children has grown exponentially.
The digital industry is creating interactive digital resources for children.
The constant search for parents and educators, resources that help children learn, play and entertain feed this production and flood the market.
Although one of the main concerns of educators and parents is the opportune time and age for children to interact with this type of device, one of the most important aspects that must be worked on is the responsible use of these devices. This implies taking into account both the exposure time and the typology of applications, as well as the accompaniment of the adult in the use and their interaction with the child.
Faced with this situation, there are many doubts that parents, educators and developers of the digital interactive resources for children have:
Which applications are the best to play with my child? Which are of quality? What criteria should I follow to find applications for children?
I present a project that aims to give scientific answers to these questions: “Anàlisis d’Apps i dels mecanismes de protecció per a la primera infancia. Suggeriments i bones pràctiques per a escollir i crear continguts interactius segurs i de qualitat”which has been financed by the Audiovisual Council of Catalonia (XI call for grants for research projects in audiovisual communication).
This is developed from the field of communication, pedagogy and evolutionary psychology, considering the construction of knowledge of children under 8 years of age from learning processes through a constructivist vision. For this reason, the proposal moves away from models that pose the possibility of leaving only the child before a “machine” (as well as in front of the television or in the choice of a toy) and underlines the necessary role played by educators in the child’s learning processes.
The general objective of the project is to improve the quality of digital content for children to ensure the protection of minors as users, as well as to facilitate and support the selection and creation of safe and quality content by educators and developers. But child protection can not be limited to avoiding online chat, violent content or foul language, as proposed in the current classification systems. From the perspective of the researchers of the project it is necessary to reconsider the assumptions at the base of the child protection mechanisms and relate them directly to the adequacy and accessibility of the interactive game to the child development.
Below is one of the research products, a guide for parents and educators, with some tips for choosing safe and quality apps: