We’ve written here about research suggesting that too much screen time can be harmful to children of all ages, and that parents might consider limiting their kids’ screen time. But as is true with most issues, reality is more nuanced and multi-layered than any single pronouncement or position paper might suggest.
Math Apps Show Benefits
So it’s worth noting a recent, systematic review of 35 controlled studies that finds some early academic benefit resulting from use of mathematics-based learning apps among young children – under six years of age, to be precise.
According to an article about the study in 2 Minute Medicine, a physician-run medical media company website, the review “examined 35 randomized controlled and quasi-experimental trials studying the impact of interactive apps on a variety of academic skills in children less than 6 years of age.”
A majority of the studies found benefits in early mathematics learning for children using apps compared to control subjects. “The same was true for studies examining language arts learning outcomes,” the article said.
About The Studies
A total of 4,639 children were involved in the studies. Not all of the studies found benefits: 10 of 15 studies examining math early learning apps found positive benefits, while six of 11 studies examining language arts apps found better outcomes for study subjects than those in the control group.
The review was led by researchers from Florida International University. “This is the first study to review research findings examining young children’s learning from interactive educational apps,” said Shayl Griffith, lead author and postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Children and Families. “These findings are important because they suggest that interactive apps may be a useful and accessible tool to support early academic development.”
Certain App Features & Content May Best Support Learning
According to a university press release, researchers state that more research on educational apps is needed, with focus on clarifying what app features and content may best support learning.
“The integration of learning apps into children’s lives at home and school has outpaced the research needed to provide comprehensive recommendations for their use,” said co-author Daniel Bagner, FIU professor of psychology and director of the Early Childhood Behavior Lab at the Center for Children and Families. “Understanding how interactive app features support learning in different content areas will allow clearer standards for educational app makers.”