Voice games give kids a break from screen time


Voice games aren’t all about competition. Earlier this year, Nina Meehan and Jonathan Shmidt Chapman, both professionals in youth theater, created the Kit K’ilu: Passover Adventure for the next Jewish holiday. They realized that for the second year in a row, the pandemic would disrupt the usual gathering of families and friends for the seder, the ritual dinner in which observers again tell the story of the Jewish exodus from Egypt.

“And it’s not that great about Zoom,” says Shmidt Chapman. “Many of these Bible stories are difficult to explain to a three to eight year old child. How can we convey this story in an age-appropriate way? The K’ilu kit attempts to make the story of the exodus meaningful, understandable and fun for children using interactive elements: a paper flame wrapped around a flashlight becomes the burning bush in through which God told Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, for example.

“The audio experience guides kids to do things physically with prompts rather than just listening,” Meehan says. “The story of the Passover is the story of the recognition of complex subjects about freedom from bondage, slavery and oppression. This is how children can learn the story of the Passover. It’s not just about looking at a screen or hearing the story, but determining the level of importance, the understanding.

According to Naomi Baron, professor emeritus of linguistics at the American University and author of How We Read Now: Strategic Choices for Print, Screen and Audio. “The concern for screen time was not just the hours our eyes were glued to the screen, but the superficiality of most of the interaction,” says Baron. “You don’t make a mental effort.”

With audio stories and games, however, the information is not presented to you on a platter. Imagination is needed, and it takes more focus and attention than looking at a screen. Baron says research has shown that with this type of learning, comprehension and recall is much higher for developing readers. She adds that older listeners can also benefit, especially if English is not their first language, their learning style is less visual, or if they are visually impaired.

Whether screen time is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is still debatable, and it is too early to say whether the pandemic boom in audio and voice games will end as vaccines will once again help. to spend time in person. They are not perfect. Voice games often misunderstand users, especially children who are simply learning to speak and interact with technology.

The Daniels, however, dubbed the audio. The family recently purchased their second Yoto, which 21-month-old baby Price has learned to use. “He’s going to sing along with it. He loves it, ”says Kate. Charlotte agrees: “I love it because it plays music and stories.”

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