A study conducted by WestEd, a nonpartisan, nonprofit education research agency, suggests that the use of some online games and smartphone apps for kids can result in academic benefits to preschool-age children. Specifically, they provide a unique opportunity for social engagement, allowing children to collaborate with their parents or peers while learning.
The study looked at a group of children ages 3-5, who made use of digital content created by PBS KIDS focusing on shapes and number and operations from 1 to 10. They accessed the content for 30 minutes a day, 4 days a week. After 9 weeks, the children’s math scores were found to be “significantly higher” than those in a comparison group using the TEMA-3 scale.
There were some unexpected benefits from the study as well. Parents reported that they felt more confident engaging their children in mathematical ideas after working with them on this digital content. Additionally, as children used the apps with their peers, researchers witnessed “unexpected, yet welcome, social-emotional benefits for the children.”
After the conclusion of the study, preschool teachers were given a short training to facilitate this intervention for children and families in order to continue these trends into the future. “The model WestEd created for training parents seems to be easily replicable,” remarked the vice president of PBS KIDS. “It doesn’t require a ton of heavy lifting.”