Mobile and Interactive Media That Can Boost Babies Brain Development

Mobile & Interactive Media That Boosts Babies Brain Development

By: Kirsten R Sandefur

In the first two years of life your babies brain undergo’s some serious growth. Unlike any other times in his/her life, the brain triples in growth. Peter Huttenlocher,  Professor Emeritus and former Chief of Pediatric Neurology at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine states that a child's brain develops twice as many synapses as it needs in adult life.  This excess of synapses make the brain especially responsive to external input. The brain then decides which synapses to discard and which ones are activated. This concept is called plasticity, or the brains ability to shape itself . The ultimate conclusion is that genes develop the blueprint for the brain, but experiences and environment are responsible for its construction.  So what kinds of things can actually help boost baby brain development in these two to three years?

Obvious things like proper nutrition and adequate sleep are determining factors, just like reading to your child and interacting appropriately with them on a consistent basis.

Past research has shown us that TV can seriously negatively impact your child's development and intelligence, does this extend to all interactive media? A new study conducted at Emory University reveals that infants under 2 can actually learn signs from television time. Some of you may remember Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, a TV show by Fred Rogers that became the longest running show on public television. Rogers had a specific way that he believed adults should interact with and treat children that was very evident in the shows he broadcast. These shows and his techniques were grounded in his study of child development.  The success of Mr. Rogers neighborhood led to a more recent animated version of this show called Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood. A recent study in the Journal of Children and Media, showed that children who watched Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood exhibited higher levels of empathy, self-efficacy (basically, confidence in oneself in social situations), and the ability to recognize emotions than those who watched the nature show. There was one caveat,  In order for kids to benefit from watching the show, their regular TV-watching experiences had to be accompanied by frequent parent-child conversations about media content. So can our kids actually learn from interactive media? The answer is, if used appropriately, I believe they can. In most of my research I have found that babies and toddlers can learn valuable skills via an interactive medium provided the parent is a integral part of this equation and isn’t using the app to keep baby entertained while the parent is uninvolved. It isn’t the medium that is the impetus to learning, it is the parent who uses interactive media as a babysitting tool to entertain their child instead of using interactive media to elicit exchanges and other social interactions between parents and children.

Even more interesting are applications developed to boost babies brain development and increase IQ. Do they have much credence to their claims? These apps are backed with science so they sure have peaked everyone's interest.

1. Nuryl -

Nuryl App was designed to enhance your babies brain cognition through something called High Information Music, which is a unique type of complex, unpredictable and highly melodic music during the critical window of brain development which is from 5 months pre natal to 2 years of age.

2. Starling-

Versa Me's Starling is a new device that can boost your babies word potential by counting the number of words you speak to them throughout the day. Research tells us that early vocabulary development can impact your child's potential for future success in life, and the number of words a child hears before the age of 4 is the biggest predictor of their future cognitive, social and emotional success. Starling features a wearable word counter and an accompanying app to monitor your progress. Starling counts these words without any connection to the internet.

3. Baby Stimulation:

High Contrast Patterns & Shapes- Infant/Baby App by HappyTouch - by Think Design Studio LLP. This is one of the first apps that helps baby develop visual perception. Research shows that in order not to be overwhelmed by the environment babies prefer to focus on high contrast shapes and patterns. Black and white and red patterns are therefore more appealing to infants than bright colors.

4. Baby Doesn’t Count App

- by Think Design Studio LLP: New Research about Subutizing shows that babies can perceive quantity intuitively , and babies as young as a few weeks old can learn to count! This app teaches young babies math using this amazing Subutizing principal via the flash method using flash cards rapidly presented to your child. The principal states that babies are right brain dominant, which is responsible for autonomic functions critical for survival and the right brain is markedly better at absorbing pictures, so pictures with a large number of dots or marbles would be intuitive to the baby. This ability to Subutize large quantities fades at around two and a half years old. if you can get your child doing equations before he loses the ability to Subtilize large quantities, then your child should always understand the reality of such equations.

Video chat has rapidly become a medium that kids are attuned to, and one study attempted to assess language learning of toddlers through socially contingent interactions on Skype and assessed the levels of efficacy. In this study by Rosebery, Hirsh-Pasek and Golinkoff, ( they learned is that kids learned better when they participated in a live interactive training rather than a taped one. Are you seeing a trend? It boils down to engagement and having an interactive element. Whether on an iPad, video, dvd, tv or radio we can glean these important findings. Having a parent use an app or watch a television show and use it as a jumping off point for a discussion, and talking with your child about their experiences as they are experiencing them seems to be the hidden key behind unlocking the virtual power behind these interactive mediums. Unsurprisingly, a children’s age in months was also positively correlated with their age and findings show that memory improves with age. Babies and young toddlers will not get as much benefit as older children from these mediums.

So Parent’s, take heart. All TV and Interactive Media is not bad, in fact it can be quite Good.