It is a great journey to learn iPad apps with my son. There is one particular app that really inspires a 5 year old boys imagination and I would like you to check out its promo video because it pretty much touches upon the whole idea of old, traditional toys.
I love old toys. I was extremely happy to find a wooden box of domino in our local Oxfam shop and I play with it myself! The sound of falling domino makes my son giggle and we all have a great time. On the other hand I get extremely frustrated when each Wednesday we go to the local bookshop to get his weekly magazine and simply cannot find one without a stupid plastic gun or something equally useless (why do we get toys in kids magazines anyway? instead of reading or drawing our kids end up playing with the toy itself, which is a way defeats the whole idea of purchasing a printed copy). So you can imagine that I was really happy to see Dawid actively engaged in creating new shapes and structures with "Ball Fall Down" iPad game. It's fun, it's creative, it requires a little bit of experimenting and for a little boy has all the elements he needs: constructions, little balls falling of the endges of imaginary shelves and ability to move things around according to his newest idea. Building, testing and recreating - great process for a small child. Without social features or additional game levels I can safely leave him for a few minutes to play. With calming music I can continue my conversations with him in a polite manner.
The reason why I mention politeness and calmness is because some of the films, stories, music or games have a huge effect on my son's behaviour. We cannot watch Ben10, not Tom&Jerry anymore. Kung Fu Panda is allowed only once in a while. Somehow Disney movies, at least majority of them, do the trick. And documentaries on how to build things;) In terms of iPad apps there are traps there too. We have been giggling over the "Talking Tom" app and it's brothers and sisters (apps designed to represent an animal or character which then can be directed, fed or pampered) but I am not sure if hitting a cat, making it fart is a good way forward. I guess it's also a question of culture - in Poland farting is considered extremely rude, so I tend to be a bit sensitive there. But what I am really worried about is the emotional effect the "Talking Tom" app has on my son. Playing the game is fun, he is happy and smiles a lot but the moment he stops the game he becomes impatient and hyperactive. I guess in this case it might be a question of balance. It is indeed an interesting process to see him interact with a virtual character, but the quality of the interaction is something I begin to question.