Monday, July 19, 2010

Social media

Social media, and by extension, personal mobile and communication devices seem to be ruling the world these days. I am firmly in the "convert" camp. Although all new experimental social trends always have pros and cons (hey, we all serve as lab rats whether we like it or not, right?) I am constantly excited and amazed by the world we are living in today, and all of the things- the information, the connections - we have available to us largely due to the social media trend. The world has become a much smaller place in this way.

I am attached at the hip to my iphone. I use it for everything from email and tweeting, to planning my daily schedules and To Do lists, to checking in on my favorite zoo animal friends via the live cams on the Pocket Zoo app (which I can heartily recommend). Now, having just got an iPad, I am also interested in exploring what children's media is available for both of these devices-- and even more importantly, which ones are really worthwhile.

I've had iphone for a couple of years but never explored the children's media arena on the device. It just seemed to be too small to be able to fully take advantage of art and words in the way that we like to experience - or are *used* to experiencing - children's stories. Recently, I also upgraded to the iphone 4 (from the "iFossil"- my 1st generation iphone -- big change, for the better) and I think my attitude about this has shifted. My experience using the device these days is much different than when I first got the smartphone. Of course, this makes sense, because I've been cutting my teeth on it's little, bitty screen and teeny, tiny keys for 2.5 years now. At first, I thought I might eventually go blind, or at least need much stronger glasses by now. But alas, my vision is gratefully intact, as are my index fingers (which do continue to work overtime on the thing - hey, shouldn't they resemble The Incredible Hulk by now?) So hey, maybe NOW, I truly *will* find enjoyment in children's media on the super-small device because I am so accustomed to the experience of living the rest of my life on it! (We humans are so adaptable, aren't we?) But then... alas... now that I am iPadding, I now have a larger canvas to experience what is available for digital media for children, and I have a LOT of exploring to do!

I am not offering up any reviews today, but I wanted to open the conversation up for future posts. Do YOU have any children's media apps that you have found particularly well designed, or that possess great content and/or concept, or are otherwise excellent? Are YOU a children's illustrator or author who has created your own iPhone or iPad app? We'd love to hear all about it! Please share in the comments.

Location:A new way to enjoy children's media


Melissa said...

I can't think of any apps that I would say are "excellent". I am, however, very interested in what others may offer up in recommendations!

I'm just a mom who at times finds herself desperate to quiet a child or two (or three, or four...) occassionally and "Mommy's Phone" is a prized jewel around these parts. Currently they mostly prefer scrolling through the 2 zillion photos I've got stored in it.

Casey G. said...

I love this post and the start of a discussion like this. Thus far the best thing I have found is a Peter H. Reynolds' animated book, which I showed to my son on the computer. Fablevision seems to be going in the right direction:

They have this one free right now too, it's my favorite:

Pickledog said...

I've downloaded a couple storybook apps on my iPhone mostly out of my own curiosity. I like the possiblities I see for author/illustrators to self publish apps for Apple Devices. I believe right now the Apple sales model gives digital content creators the greatest opportunity to actually get paid for their efforts.

As a parent I can say that my little guy loves daddy's iPhone, and I would imagine that he would go bananas over the iPad loaded with stories and games. Once he's a bit older that is.

Kathy Weller said...

Melissa, I hear you! I have no (human) children myself, but my friends almost-three year old daughter is simply all-pro on her mommy's iphone! She watches Cars and Finding Nemo, and knows exactly how to operate the thing. It's amazing.

Casey, I'm so glad you brought up FableVision. That company has been a real maverick in kid's digital educational media. (In fact think they partially invented it!) I actually worked as an illustrator waaay back when for a company co-owned by Peter Reynolds called Tom Snyder Productions. It's now a part of Scholastic. They produce digital educational materials for use in schools. Another I've also done contract work for FableVision. They are a great company doing some pretty fantastic things. I am out of the loop - I better get up to speed and check out those links you posted!

Pickledog/David - I did not know you were a DAD! That's great-congratulations!! It's so amazing what the kids are exposed to these days - it's amazing how they are growing up with digital media like it's always been there. Well, I guess it HAS always been there, for THEM! I'm aging myself here! ;) I've heard of a few illustrators and writers who have published to iphone. I will need to look for some of those apps to get a sense of the "indie" (for lack of a better word here) children's digital media landscape. It must be out there...

Kathy Weller said...

Casey, I checked out those links from FV. The first page, with all of the flash animated stories, I've seen before. Rose's Garden was new to me though. It is ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL. (Even got a little tear in my eye..) THANK YOU for posting it!!

Gina Perry said...

Great post Kathy - and some good links to check out. My 1.5 year old has been 'playing' with my itouch for a long time. It really is amazing to see how well young minds adapt to these little devices. He'll play with a few cheap-o/free apps that teach shapes and numbers, quite effectively now. I haven't tried many books yet, but the ones on the computer don't really do it for him. He'd rather 'watch' a show than flip through stills. Like he's already been programmed that the screens show 'moving' media. I personally would rather sit in a chair with him and read a 'real' book.