Kids and Screen Time: Where Do We Draw the Line?

Interesting editorial this morning in the Boston Business Journal by Heinan Landa, CEO of Optimal Networks.  According to Landa:

“There are few things that irk me more than going to a restaurant and seeing an entire family, including kids, staring at their phones and tablets during dinner.  Don’t get me wrong — I, perhaps more than most, appreciate technology and all of the opportunity it brings. However, there is a time and a place. We’ve reached the point where humanity is losing the fundamental skill to connect with people and socialize face-to-face, and it worries me.”

Kids and screen time: Where do we draw the line?




Microsoft Acquires Minecraft App for Schools

From the NY Times article:

“When Microsoft acquired the creator of the game Minecraft in 2014, the giant software company instantly got a cachet bump with children, picking up a blockbuster game app for a generation that didn’t depend on its products the way their parents did. Now Microsoft hopes Minecraft can help it in classrooms, another area where its once-mighty grip has been shaken by companies like Google and Apple. On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that it had acquired MinecraftEdu, a modified version of Minecraft tailored for use in schools. Over the last several years, MinecraftEdu has attracted a strong following and is used in over 7,000 classrooms in more than 40 countries.”

Fisher-Price Reveals Code-a-Pillar Toy, Designed to Teach Coding to Preschoolers

From the BizJournals post:

The Think & Learn Code-a-Pillar had its first public airing Tuesday at a media event before the annual Consumer Technology Association conference in Las Vegas.

The $50 toy is scheduled to be launched this fall, according to a Fisher-Price fact sheet.

The toy is designed to teach coding, but it will not include the screen and keyboard combination that might be expected, according to Fisher-Price. Instead, it will teach preschoolers using easy-to-connect segments of its body which cause it to move in different ways, the company said.

When children connect segments to make the toy move, it teaches sequencing, and when they figure out a sequence to create a path for it to reach, it teaches programming, Fisher-Price said. The Code-a-Pillar will also include a companion app that adds new challenges to the toy and reinforces over learning such as counting and patterning.

The Code-a-Pillar made big waves during CES – the huge annual tech show known for being a place where companies unveil new gadgets. It has already been featured in such places as Gizmodo, Engadget and CNET, and is part of Fisher Price’s Think & Learn line that will include at least three more toys this year, according to The Verge.

More details on the line and those toys are expected to be unveiled at the New York International Toy Fair in Manhattan in February.

Traditional Toys May Beat Gadgets in Language Development

From the NY Times post:

Baby laptops, baby cellphones, talking farms — these are the whirring, whiz-bang toys of the moment, many of them marketed as tools to encourage babies’ language skills.

A new study raises questions about whether such electronic playthings make it less likely that babies will engage in the verbal give-and-take with their parents that is so crucial to cognitive development.

The study, published recently in JAMA Pediatrics, found that when babies and parents played with electronic toys that were specifically advertised as language-promoters, parents spoke less and responded less to baby babbling than when they played with traditional toys like blocks or read board books. Babies also vocalized less when playing with electronic toys.

Basic toys without sounds or lights, like blocks, may be best for a child's development.