Digital Media Tips

By Sherry Maysonave, Author, EggMania: Where’s the Egg In Exactly, www.maniatales.com

kid-laptopDigital devices are kid magnets. Fascinated by smart phones, iPads, tablets, and gaming devices, today’s tech-savvy kids can easily get overloaded by digital media.  One of the pitfalls of too much technology is the loss of imagination time which is key to keeping the genius factor alive and well in kids. Recent MRI studies show that the use of imagination activates multiple areas of the brain with increased blood flow, which is associated with neuronal activity. Interestingly, it was found that narratives were a primary imagination trigger, and this included stories in eBook format as well as traditional books and even oral story-telling.

 

Parents can employ the advantages of imaginative journeys by using “interactive” eBooks to satisfy their kids’ digital cravings.  Narrated and enhanced eBooks typically incorporate the three primary learning modalities—visual, audio, and kinesthetic—simultaneously. Multi-sensory and multi-dimensional experiences are like brain vitamins, by significantly increasing imaginative components and learning potential.

 

How can parents optimize and ensure that their children’s screen time, even with eBooks, is a beneficial experience?

 

Tips for using interactive ebooks to engage your kids:

1. Multi-Sensory Components — Visual, Audio, and Kinesthetic

Visual: To fully engage children visually and to stimulate their imaginations, select illustrated ebooks that are visually-rich, those having artful and colorful graphics beyond typical kiddy art.

Audio: Sound enhanced ebooks that have two modes of reading are best: a) Narration with music and sound effects; b) Read Myself. To optimize audio integration, allow children to enjoy and explore the narrated version with enhanced sound. Then, to practice oral reading skills, set up auditions for “the best narrator.” Use recorders or smart phones to tape children’s versions. Allow kids to create fun sound effects and add music to their narrations. For younger children who are not yet reading advanced vocabulary, parents may record for them. Involve them though in the nuances of your oral expression. Include their voices on the recording by having them read, speak, or repeat after you, some of the words or short sentences.

Kinesthetic: Encourage tapping and touching of the screen to activate kinesthetic and interactive components. Ask them to zoom in and out on art images, tap for duplication or animation of images, and tap words for definitions. iPad users can take screen shots of illustrations, then print them in black and white for kids to color, paint, trace, or copy. Hands-on activities such as these extend the digital world into their real world and offer more opportunities for kinesthetic application.

2. Emotional Elements

A. Discuss stories and illustrations with children; ask questions, “What is their favorite illustration? And why?”… Their favorite words, fun facts, etc. Avoid asking, “What did you learn?” Host a live chat or set-up mock television interview to make this more fun for kids and show you value their opinion. Allow them to express without making any answers wrong. This is an opportunity to learn more about what your children are thinking.

B. Support the hero in your child. Develop their subjective thinking skills by helping them analyze the subtler life lessons typically inherent in children’s narratives. Kids do not always integrate what we think they will. Help them come to positive conclusions by asking them questions about the main character or characters, asking what they liked about them/him/her and didn’t like about them. Ask how they would respond to the dilemma or conflict if they were that character. Set up a stage effect for kids to act out these components or the entire story. Family participation encouraged.

3. Language Development

Give kids a choice of two illustrations from an ebook or have them select two favorites. Then have them write a new story, poem, or song lyrics based upon the illustrations and what the images inspire in their imagination. Older kids can be required to have a lexical humor slant to their story, poem, or song. They may also want to choose a genre such as comedy, drama, true crime, romance, memoir, etc.

4. Family Fun

Extend the subject matter into family time to further develop and enhance kids’ imaginations. Play games, such as charades, using vocabulary-rich phrases and words from ebook narratives. A family/friends version of “Who’s Smarter than a Fifth Grader” can be played using the Fun Facts that some ebooks provide.