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There are some great educational-type games for smart phones. Our daughter was able to navigate my iPhone pretty early on.

She seems to learn a lot from the games she is playing - letter sounds, colors, etc. She would also play it all day if we would let her - she asks to play a lot even though we limit her time on it.

Is it okay to let kids play education games (or even non-educational games on occasion)? There seems to be some advantages, but I don't want to get her hooked on technology at too young of an age (I don't want to stifle creativity).

What are your thoughts on when is a good age to let kids play educational games on a smartphone?

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Just be aware that there's not much evidence that edicational apps have any educational value, so as long as you're doing it for fun it's probably ok in moderation. – DanBeale May 31 '15 at 7:31
@DanBeale Although I am not aware of scientific studies there is certainly anecdotal evidence. I have seen kids (including my own) as young as 3-4 years old learn a lot by using educational applications on an occasional basis. I wouldn't advocate substituting iPhone apps over teachers if that's what your comment is saying, but I think it's hard to doubt that kids can learn from educational apps. Just my 2 cents. – BrianH Jun 1 '15 at 18:29
up vote 12 down vote accepted

Smartphones are part of the environment these days, and just like lacking basic computer skills now can be a handicap to many careers lacking familiarity with operating touchscreen devices could easily be a future handicap.

Personally, I allow and even occasionally encourage my 4 year old to play games on my phone. We're in the range of brief daily usage to a couple times a week depending on circumstances. It's a good way to occupy him at "boring" times such as waiting rooms, and I feel even the purely entertainment uses (Angry Birds is a popular one for us) are teaching hand-eye coordination, familiarity with modern technology and perhaps even some basic physics -- though that may be a slight stretch. :) We were probably around age 3 when we began letting him use the phone, though it had to be far more closely supervised at that stage.

That said, there are good kid-focused devices on the market to accomplish similar goals. We've found the LeapFrog Explorer to be a big hit, and all the games have been fairly educational.

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Absolutely let your kids play with your tech gadgets! I would suggest that you start the way you plan to continue. In my experience, it's hard to get kids to play educational gamesafter they have been exposed to other games that might be more fun. For example, after my kids were exposed to Plants vs. Zombies, Word Magic, Sight Words, and Math Drills lost their appeal.

Also, everything needs to be done in moderation. The games can be a great currency to get children to do less engaging things, like laundry!

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