The Benefits of Technology for Pre-schoolers. Plus a VTech InnoTab3S Kids Tablet Review!

Nov 19, 2013

This is a sponsored post

We live in a technological world and our children are growing up in this world. There is no escaping technology these days, and why would you? We are more advanced than ever before and the possibilities that lay ahead for our children and our children's children are endless.

Embracing technology with young children can be a little harder to do as our instincts tell us that childhood needs to be about play and movement, fort building, scraped knees, bug collecting, hide-and seek and ice-cream. So, where does technology fit into all of this and how can we use it best with our young children?

In our schools in Australia, an integral part of the curriculum is the integration of ICT (Information Communication Technology). ICT is the hardware and software that allows us to digitally process, store and communicate data.
The focus of using ICT with our students is for:

  • Communication- using ICT tools to communicate, research and share ideas/knowledge
  • Creativity-  using ICT to solve problems, create products etc.
  • Visualising Thinking- using ICT to visually demonstrate thought processes

The use and integration of ICT in the classroom begins with the Early Years and carries the entire way through their schooling, becoming more and more prominent as they get older.
These days, in Australia, you would find very few children that haven't had some experiences with ICT before starting school. Here's how and why I use it with my children.

Benefits of using ICT with Pre-schoolers: 

  • Makes learning fun!

Most ICT products for young kids these days are focussed towards learning and learning games. The use of appropriate technology for kids helps practice learning areas and skills like fine motor, hand-eye coordination, letter/number/shape/colour recognition, reading, writing, creativity, problem solving, maths, geography and more. Like with all the activities we do, using new and different mediums to learn and practice the same things makes it interesting and fun and can help motivate and engage children. With technology comes lights, music, movement and interaction that children enjoy. Games are specifically designed to be fun and appealing and all of a sudden, just because it's on a device of some sort, children just want to have a go!

  • Takes learning further.

Technology has the capacity to take our learning further and allow children to delve into areas of interest in a more interactive and responsive way. For example, we have a number of world maps and globes around our house and my children love looking at the different parts of the world etc. but where they really get excited is when technology is included. You can't touch our wall map and have it spring to life with new facts and information about that country, but you can on one of our learning aps! I just love this aspect of technology for kids! ICT gives us and our children access to information and ideas that once would have been out of reach (especially from the comfort of our own homes).

  • Makes children feel connected.

Children are always watching and what they see these days are adults using technology everywhere! At my house my children have a Mum who blogs on a computer and connects and shares information via social media and various ICT devices and their Dad is a computer programmer for a major bank. Our entire life is funded by working with technology so it is no wonder that our kids want to be a part of that as well. We all know how much children love doing things that the adults are doing and the use of technology is no different.

How to use technology (ICT) with Pre-schoolers

  • Use in moderation

Like pretty much everything in life, technology and "screen time" should be used in moderation for children. There needs to be a balance between their natural play and curiosity and the use of any technology. Children need to be active so activities, such as "screen time" that have them sitting still for periods of time, need to be balanced out.

  • Use to enhance or add to an experience rather than replace it.

Just because you have an e-reader or your child enjoys reading books on a tablet etc, doesn't mean that you clear out the bookshelves and only ever read on a screen. You still want your child to read real books, turn real pages and hear real people they know reading and using funny voices and answering questions about the story. Mix it up! Children definitely get excited about technology and for a reluctant reader, watching a story unfold on the screen and move and be interactive can be a lot more appealing than a good old fashioned book. Use technology to excite them, to enhance the experiences and to change things up, but don't forget to allow your children to experience things old-school as well :)

  • Make sure it's age appropriate

Obviously the technology you use with children needs to be appropriate for their age. This means you need to take into consideration things like, the physical and mental capabilities required to operate. eg pressing buttons, reading, following instructions etc. Often many of the products you can buy that are specifically designed for children will have an age range on them but each child is different so have a think about the purpose of the device and what benefits your child will gain from it at this stage in their development.

  • Use together

Smart phones, tablets, computers etc. are not baby-sitters and whilst they can be very handy for allowing a child to be independently occupied in their activity for a short period of time, it shouldn't be like this all the time. Read the e-books together, research and find out new facts together. Technology can go so far but it is no substitute for human interaction and often you will find your child will gain even more from the technology and the experience if they have an adult there to guide them and to discuss with.

Giveaway. Win a VTech InnoTab3S **This competition is now closed** 

(Sorry, this competition is for Australian readers only)

When VTech sent us one of their new InnoTab3S Wi-Fi Learning Tablets for kids to try out, to say that my 4 year old was excited would be the understatement of the century. She already has various learning apps and experiences on our smart-phones, tablet and computers but to have something that was child-dedicated and made specifically for her age group was something that brought her great joy. Oh, and hers was pink as well!

This is no ordinary learning tablet though, it is the most advanced pre-school learning tablet on the market and the only one with Kid Connect which allows your child to send pictures and messages to pre-approved, (parents have complete control over this!) parents and friends smart phones! Maddie is used to seeing her parents message one another throughout the day while Dad is at work and I am often passing on messages intended for the kids. She is delighted now to be able to send and receive her own messages to Daddy via the Wi-Fi connectivity that we set up at home. Check out the video here for more information.

Our Favourite features:

  • Kid Connect (staying in touch with Daddy while he's at work and our relatives that we don't see as often is a really cool feature!)
  • Wi-fi (allows us easy access to the VTech Learning Lodge where there are over 350 apps available to purchase and to connect to parent-approved websites)
  • Upload music, movies, pictures etc from our computers straight onto the tablet (only preschool tablet technologically enabled for this)
  • Rechargeable battery pack (Anyone who's had to continue buying batteries for electronic toys will know just how important a feature this is!!)
  • 4GB internal memory plus an SD card slot for expansion up to 32GB! (only kids tablet with this feature)
  • 2MP rotatable digital camera/video camera lens (only kids tablet with a multi-way camera). She loves taking pictures and videos on it!
  • Unlike our own tablets, this one is built tough and reinforced for use with younger kids. (Yay, less worry!)
  • Comes with a good range of aps and games to get you started  that will keep them entertained for ages.
* Information current 19th Nov 2013

The Art Studio app is one of her favourites!

Overall, we are really impressed with the InnoTab3S and would happily recommend it to our friends. I did find the web browsing to be a little difficult to use but it's not my intention for her to be using that feature often. I also had a little bit of difficulty when purchasing some extra apps from the Learning Lodge. The program froze up a bit and it appeared as though the apps had not been purchased. After checking my Paypal (to confirm the payment had gone through), I restarted the whole program again and there were my purchased apps. I've not had the problem since but if you have a similar problem, I'd just recommend double checking that your payment has gone through before trying to re-purchase.

Handy tip: If giving this to your child for Christmas etc. I recommend opening it up, charging it and setting up the parts you need to set up first. That way, when the child receives it they can get started on it right away without having to wait for all the charging and set-up to occur. 
(Yes, we had a bit of disappointment that we'd not charged it and set it all up before it was time for her to go to bed, so she had to wait till the next morning to use it for the first time. Next time I'd be setting it up before they see it! haha)

How to Win (Australian entries only)  **This competition is now closed** 

Thanks to VTech we have 1 x InnoTab3S Learning Tablet (RRP $189), to giveaway to one lucky Aussie reader.
To enter, simply leave a comment below answering the following question:

How would your child use the InnoTab 3S?

Giveaway details:
- End date: 5pm Tuesday 26th Nov.
- Open to Australian residents age 14+
- The most creative comment will be selected.
- If you don't have a profile created that links to an email address then you must leave your email address with the comment. You can't win if we can't contact you!
- See all participating blogs and the full terms and conditions here.

The InnoTab3S is now available in Big W, Target and all good toy stores nationwide. You can read all the details and features on the VTech website.

Happy playing, 
Debs :)

{Disclosure: this is a paid post for VTech sponsored by Nuffnang. We received an Innotab3S to review. As always, opinions expressed in this post are my own and my children's.}

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