Your Kids Do not Need Electronic Learning Toys

We've all seen the advertisements for toys, videos, even teaching programs for babies promoting to give your child an academic edge. Maybe we've been moved to purchase those toys that teach colors, counting, and ABC's in English and Spanish. Maybe we've been consumed with guilt because we did not give our children these toys, and we'll always wonder if we are the reason they might turn out to be something other than rocket scientists and neurosurgeons.

Is there anything wrong with these toys? No, nothing at all. They are often cheerful, colorful, and include a catchy tune your toddler or preschooler will enjoy. And they do, in fact, give kids early exposure to those basic academic skills. The lights and sounds are delightful rewards for your little one who is exploring the buttons, dials, and sliding levers. All that exploring improves their eye hand coordination and hand strength, aka "fine motor skills."

So what's the problem? Well, frankly, the problem is parents expect the fancy "teaching toys" to live up to the hype, and give something back for all the dollars paid to get this toy or gadget. After all, do not the toy companies know what they are doing? Does not the app teach a very obvious skill, like matching? It sets parents' mind at ease, and they may feel the kids are getting a superior education. Some may feel the toys are better teachers than moms and dads. Some may feel that adding extra "teaching time" with the child would be unnecessary. This is a very dangerous way of thinking.

We have to ask ourselves to think – how do kids learn? Toddlers and preschoolers are not ready for lectures and power point presentations any more than they are ready for these kinds of "lessons" the so called learning toys are trying to provide. This may seem like comparing apples to oranges – lectures are obviously for teen and up, but those learning toys are fun and kid friendly, right? Wrong. How could they be likened to a lecture? Because of one key ingredient that is missing in both instances, the very thing that makes it inappropriate for a child – it is not attached to a meaningful personal experience or social interaction.

Lectures are one sided. A speaker presents information, the listener soaks it in. Sometimes the audience is invited to participate somehow, but it is usually limited. The learning toys are only slightly better. They make their noises, and some of them try to get the child to press a button to respond. The child is cheered for or asked to try again depending on how they respond. Does this count as a meaningful personal experience or social interaction? No, not at all. The child simply listening to a computer. They are not holding and working with real objects. No one they care about is sitting with them to provide the encouragement or praise. Instead they hear a computer voice that is empty and repetitive. Sometimes the machine responds inaccurately, like when the child sets on the toy and the toy cheers for the child who incidentally sat on the button that was the correct the response. Like a lecture, these toys are impersonal, use representation instead of real objects, and may even give inaccurate feedback.

Do you still think those learning toys are superior?

Let's take a look at naturally occurring learning now. You can call it the unplugged version. Junior is in the sandbox with Grandma sitting nearby. His fingers are covered in sand, providing delightful sensory input. (If you are not familiar with "sensory input" just think of all the stuff kids like to touch because it is so varied – sand, paint, jell-o, beans, rice, water). Whenever you add sensory input, you are activating more parts of the brain, which aids in memory and learning in general. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the light breeze is blowing, all the more sensory input that makes outside so much fun for kids. Junior is busy pouring and scooping sand. He plays pretend with a dump truck and uses it to transport sand to the "construction site." Grandma and Junior chat while he plays, and she gives him words to learn like empty, full, big, little, wet, dry. Junior is in charge of the play scenario. He fills up that dump truck himself. He shows how and when and where to dump it. Grandma smiles and encourages him. She challenges to make "a great big pile" of sand and applauds when he does. Junior beams with pride.

What just happened out there in the sandbox? Meaning happened. That sand was in Junior's little hands, not pixels on a screen. He scooped by using his little hands and muscles, not with a stylus tapping on a screen. He learned about physics out there, as he learned how hard to push the truck to make it go through the sand, how much pressure he needed to lift up the dump truck, what happened to the sand when the bucket was already full, how far Water splashes when he dumped it all at once. He was encouraged to keep going when the bucket was not full yet and Grandma helped him understand that full meal up to the top. He accomplished an actual physical task that he could see, touch, and be proud of. He got lost in the joy of make-believe play, which is critical for child development. Grandma's praise was genuine and accurate, and he loves that lady to pieces so he did not give up until he got it right.

So now we have seen how a real task, like sandbox digging or block tower building, with real people, is obviously better than tasks on a computer screen. But what about the ABC's, you ask? What about the counting in English and in Spanish? Times have changed drastically, and the pressure is really on once kids get to kindergarten. You want your future neurosurgeon to be ready!

OK, here's the truth. You can teach a toddler letters. You can teach shapes as complicated as "cylinder" to a two year old and she will be able to name it when she sees it a few weeks later. You will beam with pride. She can learn to count to ten, too. The question here is, should you?

It comes back to meaning. A child can count to ten, but does she understand what the numbers mean? Does she know that 8 is twice as many as 4? That 4 is one less than 5? That there are five cookies on the plate but when she eats one, that there are now four cookies? And what earthly purpose does a toddler have for adding the word "cylinder" to her vocabulary? She can learn letters, but she will not learn to read any faster. And without regular re-teaching, your child will quickly forget these things – for the simple fact that they do not hold any meaning for her. Our memories work by sorting and associating concepts with familiar things or in a way that makes sense. And all that academic mumbo-jumbo you gave her does not have a "storage drawer" inside that developing little mind. She has not got any place to store it that makes sense, so it fades quickly. So if it is not going to stick, why waste her time with it? Why not go outside and play in the sandbox? We know the lessons learned out there are going to last.

As your child approaches kindergarten, you will want to ensure he is "ready." Today's standards mean he should know a great many things, including letters and how to hold a crayon, his full name, and how to hop and skip. But starting to teach academies in baby and toddler years is not necessary. In fact, it may rob children of the time they could have spent filling and dumping a bucket of sand.

Still not convinced? Consider the child's growing mind. At one year of age, your child still thought he was an extension of you, and that he could control you. He fought, you fed him. He was bored, you played with him. You left him, he hinded until you returned. He tantrums because he can not control you any more. And he is mystified! He can not sort it out. Now fast forward to age 2. He's still tantrumming regularly. He cries because his meatballs are "all gone" even though you look in his bowl and see meatballs still there. Was that even the issue? Nobody knows! Now I ask you, is he ready to learn the complicated sound / symbol relationship of letters and begin to read? Is he ready to count in Spanish? Probably not. Research suggests kids are not ready to recognize and remember letters until … ready for this? … age five . That is shocking considering today's grueling pace. There is also some evidence that early exposure to letters and learning to read does not matter at all. A child can learn to read, and learn in a matter of months, if you wait until the child is developmentally ready to do so. That's around age seven. Of course, in America we do not wait until a child is seven to get started, the point of this is remind us that child development happens in a predictable, linear fashion. It can not be rushed. Development happens on child's schedule, not due to parental diligence with flashcards and learning videos. However, your child still has loads of things to learn. He is ready to play with you, listen and learn from a real person who loves and cares for him. He wants to please you, and wants to interact with you.

You do not have to "try" to teach a young child. Simply interact with him, talk with him, and ask him questions. Let him try things on his own and help him be successful. Learning happens in play, not on a screen or with a computerized toy. You can play pretend, build, paint, dig, hop and run, and even sort and categorize familiar objects like food in a toy kitchen. You can bake cakes and wash the bowls afterward. You can play catch and make up a simple game. You are all your child needs. Computerized toys can never replace the invaluable learning that happens when you simply play with your child. Choose toys that allow for problem solving, building, pretend play, or dress-up outfits. Do not forget about things like blocks, balls, and books. These classics never fail to entertain and to teach, too. Best of all, it is easy to join in and play with your child!

The Importance of Your eCommerce Site for Your Business

It is plain to see why a poorly designed website can be a major problem to online businesses, most especially during the holiday season, which covers 20% to 40% of the yearly sales.

In this regard, those who need data validation can refer to the stats that explain the importance of your brand’s presence on the Internet:

  • Before people shop at a physical store, they often check websites of online stores.
  • Customers search online for the prices and availability of goods so they would know whether to shop online or at physical stores.
  • During an economic crisis, consumers exercise caution when shopping online to stretch their budget, resulting to an increase of website traffic.
  • Shoppers that tend to purchase downloadable gifts like eBooks, music and FB credits, among others, will likely buy more.

Optimize Your Online Site Immediately

Now that you are aware of your site’s importance, what should you do before the holiday season approaches? It is never too late to try some of these strategies:

Prepare for unexpected traffic.Plan ahead of time to make sure that your site can manage all the orders. Anticipate peak loads, observe the responsiveness of your site and assess application performance way before Cyber Monday.

Increase the speed of your site. Use a CDN (content delivery network) for a speedy delivery of relevant content with videos and images to your consumers.

During the holidays, most shoppers use their mobile devices to search online before heading for the stores. Therefore, it would be wise to incorporate an in-store experience with info regarding your well-timed and relevant personalized website and mobile apps.

Find ways to let the customers easily find your products on the web. To improve exposure, submit a feed to the top online shopping comparison engine, Google Product Search. Try the Amazon Marketplace or add pay-per-click ads to Amazon Product Ads’ product and category pages. This way, shoppers will be able to view your ads when they find products that are similar to yours.

Though social media is not the main channel for searching, it has targeted the mainstream and has therefore gained importance, specifically to GenY shoppers. Transform visitors into sales channels by including social sharing in product pages. Display good customer service in public by resolving issues with customers on networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.

People who are low on budget usually search online before buying, so it is a good idea to follow the example of various sites in making it fun, simple and efficient to shop on the web. Provide product filters, rich product details, comparison tools, well-designed navigation and recommendations. Enhance the images of your best-selling products, emphasize your value propositions and make sure that shipping and return policies are clear.

Fix your leaky conversion funnel immediately by adding simple and cost-efficient website usability and feedback tools.

Whenever possible, ask for the visitor’s email address and try to squeeze a lot of value out of each sign-up.

Try to employ remarketing campaigns so you can target consumers who take time to buy.

The Significance of E-Books

E-Books are virtual books used to display information on any subject on the digital medium. This has made the task of Internet users easier to publish any kind of information. It is easy to create these electronic books on the Internet. This format is accessible and portable on multiple platforms. Computer users can have access to these digital books on any system with different configuration. You can open and view the digital books on the computer system easily. The original format does not change. If you create the digital book in an appropriate format, you can easily reduce the size of the file. Here, one can accommodate more than hundred pages in the electronic book. It is also easy to store and carry the digital book in portable devices like pen drive, Digital Video Disc or iPod.

Importance of E-Books:

The significance of electronic books is that they can be used for several purposes. You can use e-Books for promoting online business. An entrepreneur can write informative or promotional content for alluring the potential web visitors towards the company website. This enables you to promote the products and services online and build favorable company reputation. An e-Book can carry thousands of pages. One can make available any kind of information on the Internet through electronic books. An organization can create manuals, newsletters, reports or presentations. You can use digital books for educational purposes such as tutorials and e-notes. One can create digital books on science or medical field and on other such subjects. Universities can organize for imparting education to the distant learning students through Internet. They can provide digital books on various subjects to these students and make learning easier as well as fun. Even authors can publish their work online like poems, novels, fiction stories, rhymes and much more. Authors can also receive feedback from the readers for their work on the Internet. You can add animation or graphics along with other such content in the digital books.

E-Books can be published in a variety of formats such as PDF, HTML, Word document and much more. These formats make your task of publishing content easy and smooth. You can create e-books in different file formats and for this you can also use conversion software like word to PDF converter and make e-books creation easy and smooth.

Pros and Cons of Watching Television

Many of us love watching TV especially during our free time and if we don’t have anything to do. We like watching TV while eating our favorite snacks or hanging around in a friend’s place. Either way we are entertained when we watch TV. There are many different programs we can watch on TV depending on our mood and our personality. Some love watching comedy and talk shows while others particularly kids and those who are young at heart love watching cartoons on Cartoon Network or Disney channel.

But then, watching TV has its advantages and disadvantages. Experts say that too much watching of TV especially among children is not good for the health and the mind. TV can be entertaining and informative yet at times it can be damaging and harmful.

Below are the Pros and Cons of watching TV.

Pros:

1.) Entertainment and Laughter

We are entertained by shows we love to watch. We laugh at things we find funny and comical in the TV program we are watching. We also love to dance or sing along with celebrities we see on TV and some of us even copy their dance moves and singing styles.

2.) Information and How-To

We learn a lot of information about places and people that we usually don’t learn on magazines, books and newspapers. There are travel shows that show us beautiful places in the world and inform us the culture of different countries which can be a great help especially if we are planning to travel. We also easily learn how to cook new recipes by watching cooking shows and we can learn doing some other stuff through programs that show step-by-step procedures of performing a particular work, exercise or other interesting stuff.

3.) Improve Memory and Easy Learning

We usually take note of the time schedule for our favorite programs especially if it is only shown once or twice a week. We tend to store and recall the things that recently happened in our favorite show before the next episode will be shown on TV. This will help enhance our memory which we can apply on our daily life. For children, it is easier to learn math, science, alphabet and other subject matters if someone can show them how to do it like counting, identifying objects and a lot more. Educational TV shows are available for children to watch and learn.

4.) Bonding With Family and Friends

Watching TV is a great way to bond with family and friends especially on weekends. You can laugh and discuss things that you see on TV. That can be really fun.

5.) Awareness and Alertness

Weather reports and current news on different parts of the worlds can make you aware of what is happening outside your country. You can also be alert when there is an incoming typhoon in your area and that can help you get prepared.

Cons:

1.) Decline in creativity and imagination.

TV shows including commercials have tendency to share their creative works on us and impart their ideas and opinions on us which is not favorable and can lead to a decline in our creativity and imagination since we can not think on our own since creative stuff are readily available and shared to us.

2.) Health problems

We usually eat junk foods or any of our favorite snacks while watching TV. This is not good for our health because we tend to eat a lot while we are sitting down facing the television. This can lead to obesity since we don’t move a lot when we watch TV. This can also lead to other serious ailments caused by eating a lot and moving less.

3.) Makes people lazy

Most of us get hooked when watching programs of our favorite TV channel. We sometimes even forget to do our work or other important things because we got engaged in the show we are watching. Some people forget to do their household chores because they would rather watch TV than work.

4.) Some shows don’t teach good values.

There are TV programs that do not teach good values particularly to children. Instead of teaching them good deeds they even imitate, re-enact or spoof important things happening around us which is not good for children to watch.

To sum up, in watching TV you should choose and monitor the TV programs that you and your children should watch. Choose programs that can help you learn and grow as a person. You should also limit the time your children spend in watching TV. The maximum number of hours small kids should watch TV is 3 hours while for teenagers you should make sure they watch good shows only when they are done with homework and projects.