Imagine cuddling up with your small child to look at a picture book together that is interactive, musical, responsive and talks to you?
This is the experience that people are having who are engaged in that relatively new pastime – playing computer games with babies.
JumpStart’s Knowledge Adventure calls it “lapware”, Kiddies Games’ logo is “Hop on the lap and tap”, and Sesame Street’s “Baby and Me” opens with an animation of a baby monster hopping onto the lap of a Daddy monster to play the computer. Playing computer games with your baby is being promoted as a fun activity that a child and their caregiver can share together. And rightly so, because whatever the activity, physical, loving closeness is an important ingredient that infants need for healthy intellectual, emotional and physical development.
Reading a bedtime story to a small eager child is a tradition in many homes. As the children get older, this may be replaced by watching TV together. Our parents’ families listened to the radio together. Playing on the computer with a small child may become a new type of family tradition. Home computers and internet are making their way into more and more homes. Some parents use the computer in their work and are delighted to share the computer for a fun activity with their kids. Other parents want to make sure their children become computer literate. Well-designed, interactive, educational computer games engage small children as much as the television and are more educational than TV because they incite the child to interact and think, rather than passively watch and listen. These are the reasons for the increasing popularity of toddler computer software. Although a relatively small industry, software for infants has been cited as being a very fast growing industry.