Screen time with a clear conscience*

Article image - Screen time with a clear conscience*
Parents in Melbourne already know what studies now confirm: use of smart devices by children under the age of eight is exploding across the industrialized world.

Childcare professionals and specialists are seeing increasing sedentary lifestyles as the result, and parents are wondering how to address the “screen time” dilemma.

Relief is on the way.

A new playground opening at Winchester Park, Epping in Melbourne encourages kids and parents to bring their smartphone or tablet with them to the playground helping bridge the gap between screen time and outdoor playtime.

Whittlesea City Council will be the first in Australia to unveil this ground breaking new playground.

“This is the world’s first playground with its very own app,” says Sue Simpson, Managing Director for KOMPAN Australia, the company that has developed the interactive SMART playground.

“It combines the physical playground with a digital curriculum compliant learning concept based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales; stories we all know; The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling and The Tinderbox”.

Through QR codes placed on the playground equipment, or via the Apple or Android store, kids can download the Hans Christian Andersen Play Gate app.
When opened, a world of augmented reality appears, adding an extra dimension of characters and stories to the playground.

“The playground can, of course, be used without a smart device, but the option is there to really take advantage of kids natural love of technology, get them outdoors and create an environment where physical, social and intellectual learning take place,” says Simpson, who explains that the app also contains the full version of the fairy tales in e-book format.

Sue commends the app’s design for facilitating and complementing the learning potential of play with curriculum–compliant teaching guides developed in the range.

According to a Dr Kate Highfield, lecturer at Macquarie University’s Institute of Early Childhood, “New technologies, when used well, can enrich the learning and development process. When learning is fun and engaging and it’s something we want to do, it’s something that will often inspire children to engage.
“So, how can technology support that?

She says touch screen devices such as smartphones and tablets remove the challenge of navigating a keyboard or mouse, allowing younger children to interact with the devices.

The average time spent by children under age eight each day on smart devices has tripled since 2011.

This growing tendency was one of the reason’s KOMPAN developed the SMART playground concept.

The Smart Playground is entered into 2014’s Australian International Design Awards and the official opening of the playground is expected to be in June.

For more information visit the website at: www.kompan.com.au

*Copy Supplied by KOMPAN