Giving a child some paper and something to draw with has been a parenting standby for hundreds of years, whether it’s to keep them busy when you’re visiting relatives, to while away a rainy day, or to occupy them when they’re stuck in bed unwell. Over time this activity has evolved into a retail industry that offers assorted products designed to achieve the same effect – colouring books, magic painting, dot to dot, sticker books, all variations on a theme. Now that so much entertainment is provided via the Internet and electronic devices, is there still a place for the humble paper and pencil?
Using the positive side of the web
A lot of parents will roll their eyes and shake their heads when asked about the effect of the Internet on their children. There are the obsession kids get with gaming and social media, the misleading information and reinforcement of stereotypes, and of course the undesirable content and possible conduits to grooming. These problematic aspects of the Internet on children’s lives is far more eagerly reported in the media than the positive aspects. Children can find out about anything and everything they are interested in online, and being able to use electronic resources and multimedia, kids can find learning more engaging.
The colouring book goes online
For young children, a tablet is a miraculous window into the world that provides an endless stream of entertainment. There are tablets designed for children that eliminate the worry of them being able to access inappropriate content, having inbuilt restrictions so children can watch videos and play certain games for example. All the traditional forms of paper-based activities are now available for electronic devices, and many don’t require any special pens as they did in the early days – kids can simply use their fingers on the screen to draw, write and colour. Anything that kids can do with pen and paper can now be found as an app, and there are age and ability gradients that offer more sophisticated functionality as the child’s age increases.
Beyond the colouring book
As well as reinventing the colouring book and its derivatives for an electronic age, designers are now producing new activities that kids can get involved with. There are courses online for topics like Lego building or making robots, where the child can watch a tutorial and then post their own video of their creation, based on that session’s theme. It’s educational and instructive, but as it’s so much fun, kids readily engage with the courses and might not even realise they’re actually learning. They can see what other kids have made and make and receive comments on projects. There are numerous apps which enable even the most artistically challenged children to design posters, paintings, leaflets and many other materials, for example, a quote maker that your child can use to create a poster.
It’s always worth reminding parents to be careful when using Internet resources, to make sure the sites are legitimate and that if they are interactive, your child’s personal details aren’t accessible to anyone but the site owners. Being mindful of possible risks will mean your child can enjoy hours of creative fun – but don’t ditch the pencils and paper just yet!