Why high-tech toys cannot replace real-life teachers
sack may have been packed with expensive, high-tech interactive toys that can
teach young children to count and play alphabet games, but they should not be
seen as a substitute for learning through human contact, warn researchers at
toys, which are usually cuddly dolls or teddies with sensors that respond when
squeezed or pushed, are supposed to encourage children as young as four to
learn by themselves through play.
initial findings of a current study by computer scientists and psychologists at
Sussex, together with the Institute of Education at the University of Stirling,
have shown that many children do not interact with the toys in ways for which
they were designed.
claim to be educational and to be able to engage your child in hours of
interactive learning to hook people into buying them," points out Dr Rosemary
Luckin. "But when we carried out a pilot study with four-year-olds and
five-year-olds, we found a lot of children were happy just to squeeze the
sensors without actually getting the toy to play a game. The toys can be
motivating, but they shouldn't be seen as a substitute for spending time with
the toys,which can cost up to £50 each,
also interact with
computers and accompanying software designed to help children learn about
maths, problem solving or spelling. Linking the toy and the computer can
broaden a young learner's experience of technology, but the pilot study, which
looked at Microsoft's ActiMate toys, showed that that children were less
enthusiastic about using the software when the toy was taken away.
will also look at what children think and feel about the toys and explore the
social impact of children as users and consumers of computer-based toys.
not saying the toys are necessarily a bad thing," says Rosemary. "But parents
would need to find out how much their child was able to engage with them
Friday 11 January 2002
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