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Tech-savvy preschoolers embrace iPads

Tablet computers have already gained a foothold in Finland’s primary schools. Now, even kindergarteners are learning to navigate the devices along with their ABCs.

Lapsi harjoittelee matematiikkaa tabletilla.
Image: Yle

An increasing number of child-oriented programmes are being developed for tablet computers. Kids enjoy both games and learning apps, says philosophy researcher and educator Lauri Järvilehto.

A few kindergartens are also introducing children to tablets PCs. The so-called Molla project, launched in the eastern city of Lappeenranta and supported by the Finnish National Board of Education, aims to encourage preschoolers to explore new media.

Within the framework of this project, several playschools in Lappeenranta and Turku have acquired tablets for the kids.

Educator Riikka Tidenberg from Molla says that children are nowadays born into a different media reality than their predecessors.

“There’s a fear that media will come and rule over kindergartens, but the fact that children are taught and told what can be done on these devices helps them to be more critical [of them],” Tidenberg points out.

No solitary work

But she says that children should not be left alone with the computers.

“The idea is that the iPad would be part of an inclusive activity, and work would be done in groups or in pairs,” Tidenberg says.

Daycare planner at the city of Helsinki Mikko Mäkelä stresses that traditional practices should not fall into oblivion.

“It’s been proven that, for example, walking in the forest develops the brain, and such actions cannot be substituted by technology,” Mäkelä says.

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