Partially excerpted from the new book, "iPads in Education for Dummies" by Sam Gliksman
In between repeatedly imploring my youngest son to turn off the XBox, iPad, his mother's iPhone and every other device we have around the house, I get the occasional flashback to when I was his age. In my flashback, it's a weekday and the time is somewhere around 5pm. I've just come home from school and I'm glued to the 17th repeat of an episode of Get Smart or Gilligan's Island. Even though I've already seen it 16 times, I still get frustrated that the castaways can't manage to get off that ridiculous island. And how on earth did the Professor manage to build that car and ham radio anyway?
My point is simple. We need to fight the good fight and give our kids balanced lives. Time away from technology is a core component of that balance, but let's face it, you can't avoid the fact that technology is a vital part of their lives. In different ways, technology was also a major part of our own childhood and sculpted the culture in which we grew up. Let's at least try to make their time with technology as productive as possible. Call me a heretic but I don't see great value in having my son spend time with games that encourage players to steal cars and beat up innocent bystanders. I'd rather see him playing games that foster the learning of important skills as a byproduct.
In that spirit, I've started a list of educational iPad game apps for parents. I've got a special affinity for these games as I originally started my career in technology as a first generation educational software designer. The list contains casual, fun games to use at home. They don't necessarily help you master long division or prepare for an upcoming geography test. The accent is primarily on having fun. If your child isn't going to enjoy playing then the app won't make the list. The second important criterion is that time spent playing is productive and that something of value is learned while playing the game.
The link to my initial choices is below. Feel free to add your own suggestions on the list that appears when you click the link. I'll give you a last word of warning though. If you're tempted to play some of the games yourself, don't call me when you start showing up late for work!