-LeapFrog Toys back official report which asks the Government to make playing with technology an integral part of initial teacher training-
A new report from a Parliamentary Group has called for play to be at the centre of a ‘whole child’ approach to health and wellbeing. Whilst there is broad consensus about the importance of physical activity in the battle against obesity, play has lost political momentum in recent years and the report, sponsored by LeapFrog, calls for a fresh approach.
What constitutes play in today’s society is questioned by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on a Fit and Healthy Childhood. The report spotlights the positive role of modern technology in child’s play in both home and school settings, affirming that tech toys can be of great value if they are used to support and enhance other learning activities and goals.
The report lands as LeapFrog launch the new Android based tablet for children, LeapFrog Epic, their first device made for sale in the consumer electronics section. Dr Jody Le Vos, director of the LeapFrog Learning Team – a PHD qualified team that sits at the heart of the brand’s educational product development – comments: “We know that children learn best when they are having fun, so tech in the early years setting, be it at home or school, should reflect this - it should be playful”.
Dr. Jody continues: “Dedicated learning tablets designed for kids, for example, hold great play appeal to children and when coupled with the right educational content, it can fully engage a child and help supplement other home or classroom learning techniques.”
The APPG report identifies a need for improved education and guidance for parents and professionals. It calls for initial teacher training to include a focus on playful learning through technology to identify best practises and encourage a varied and balanced classroom diet of learning opportunities through play. It also asks the Government to take responsibility for assisting parents on understanding the criteria for selecting ‘tech toys’ and educating them on how to incorporate them constructively in to child’s play at home.
“There is still a big job out there to support parents” continues Dr. Jody, “for example, we know the amount of screen time parents should give their child is an ongoing concern. As a brand offering a range of educational tech toys for children age 3-9, we take our responsibility to guide parents very seriously. We regularly produce guides and host social Q&A’s for parents on this subject, helping them to understand the positive effects of tech play, the importance of screen quality and often how to develop a screen time ‘plan’ that they are comfortable with at home.”
The launch of the LeapFrog Epic tablet this month illustrates how LeapFrog is trying to further support parents in making tech part of their child’s play diet. Knowing kids are drawn to adult devices and increasingly expecting technology that looks and feels more like their parents, the LeapFrog Epic boasts a sleek ‘grown up’ look. The perfect introduction to tablet play for children, it includes a wealth of parent-pleasing features including parental controls which allows them to set limits on what, when and how long children can use the device.
It also provides children a kid-safe browsing experience through its proprietary LeapSearch browser only allowing access to pre-selected, kid-safe web content from over 5,000 videos, images, websites and games all reviewed and approved by the LeapFrog learning team. As their child’s interests change and grow, parents can simply add new websites to the LeapSearch browser.
Sally Plumridge, VP Marketing EMEAAA at LeapFrog comments: “We welcome this report as we launch LeapFrog Epic. We believe that a child’s development is a continuous journey and there is a positive place for technology within this. Epic is a shining example of a tech toy that can add value to a child’s learning journey through play. Technology is very much part of the world we now live in and there is a need to refresh our current understanding of play and reshape perceptions around ‘tech toys’. A child’s knowledge and imagination is infinite and technology can help encourage, engage and excite children to reach their full potential”.
The wider report on play analyses indoor and outdoor play, the importance of ‘risky play’ in sharpening decision-making, leadership and team collaboration, play as an essential part of the learning process both inside and outside the classroom and home and the role of the planning process in making streets and outdoor space playable for children. It calls upon the play industry, advertising, the media and national and local government to recognise the contribution that play can make to children’s lives.
Former ‘Playschool’ TV presenter, Baroness Floella Benjamin chairs the APPG and in speaking of the full report adds: “This is the most comprehensive recent study of play in all its forms and proves the truth of the old saying ‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.’ I am delighted to commend it to my parliamentary colleagues.”