Technology changes society. From radios, to televisions, to computers, the very meaning of culture is altered by the content that each new medium presents to the public. Most recently, “smart phones” and the accompanying applications (“apps” for short) are providing people with ways to use media to increase knowledge.
Since Sesame Street launched in November 1969, television programs geared toward children have been used as a way to entertain them and teach them lessons through stories. Likewise, documentary programs and nature shows geared at adults proved that people could learn about new things by simply watching television. Now apps are replacing television for two main reasons. Firstly, iPhones can play videos so it is possible to watch the same exact shows seen on TV on the phone, abet handling a smaller screen. Secondly, many apps are interactive and actually involve the child in the lesson instead of merely having them watch it. Apps have created two-way communication between the media and the viewer, something that television was unable to do. Although computers can also engage people in two-way communication, apps and iPhones can be carried around and used virtually anywhere so one does not have to be at a desk in order to use the media.
Apple.com lists apps that are educational for all ages from young children to grown adults including subjects such as reading and math. Apps can be used to engage people in science studies, such as learning about volcanoes, or strengthen understanding about history and geography. There are even apps that promote the arts and cultural events.
Funeducationalapps.com lists a number of kid-friendly apps that turn learning into a game. There is the app known as House that Jack Built which helps children learn different languages. Global Game Changers tells stories about kids who are doing good things for the world and Being Different teaches kids about individuality and tolerance. Bugs and Bubbles is even more useful, being one app with 18 educational games built into it. Children born in this era are extremely adept at using computers. Noting that a great portion of our lives are now spent online it is good to embrace the benefits of learning via technology such as apps. For parents who homeschool or cyberschool, these apps should be introduced as both games and curriculum. Learning through fun has been proven to be beneficial and sharpening a child’s technological skills will only aid them as they navigate through our digital world.
Adults can largely reap the same benefits from apps as children can. Since the brain is an organ that needs exercise games like crossword puzzles, chess and Sudoku have long been considered ways to keep one’s mind “sharp.” However, traditionally there has also been an air of folk myth to the legend that games could actually help the mind stay physiologically healthy. Thus, when people mused that they were “keeping their minds in shape” others were not truly certain that the games were actually having any effect on the player’s mind. Now, however, there have been scientific breakthroughs which make it clear that games do indeed exercise the mind and this absolutely helps our memories. In fact, there are certain websites that are operated by Ph.D.-holding neuroscientists who are dedicated to increasing brain power and combating memory loss. Happy-neuron.com allows users to sign up and partake in a number of “brain games” that are meant to be fun and useful in sharpening memory, focusing attention and enhancing creativity. Lumosity.com boasts the same affects and for about $10 a month users can engage either website and see if it offers the promised effects. Conveniently, both companies offer FREE apps and are tailored for more adult audiences than most online and app “games.”
Although not everyone will be keen to download an app to boost their cognitive powers, it is certainly worth noting that the merits of games are being recognized by professionals in the field of brain science. A quick Google search will offer options to explore numerous websites that include brain games appropriate for all ages. It is important that we exercise mentally as well as physically and apps can help us achieve these goals.