How one 9 year old uses an iPad

Diane Loviglio

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This Christmas, my 9 and 6 year-old cousins each got an iPod Touch.  Small computing devices aren’t new to them — they’ve spent the last 6 months playing Angry Birds and Fruit Ninja on their mom’s iPhone and more recently her iPad.  They are avid Wii players too.

So when I was making plans for the holidays, I decided to ask my aunt if she was okay with me interviewing her oldest son.  She agreed in a heartbeat.  Sweet! Oh wait, I’m not ready for this!

My goal was to interview Adam (not his real name) in a show-and-tell fashion. I asked questions like “Show me that app. How does it work? When did you get it?  How did you hear about it? Why do you like it?”

Sitting on his bed with his stuffed Uglydoll, a few science books and his mom’s iPad, Adam took me through his apps.  First the Games folder, then Games II folder, then we did a web search in Safari for “Science facts for kids ” but interestingly enough he typed his query into the iPad search bar, not by going to the Safari app.
So after we spent 30 minutes walking through the apps he uses, which were just games and Photobooth, he showed me all the other capabilities of the iPad.  “You can even use it as an iPod.”  However when we looked at iTunes there was no music to be found.  He admitted that he doesn’t listen to any music on it, but he wanted to make sure that I knew the device could do such things.

At the very end, I asked him to draw two pictures for me – one of what he liked and one of what he disliked about his mom’s iPad and this is what I got:

I laughed to myself.  What did I really expect him to draw for me?  Then I decided that his answer made perfect sense.  His drawing along with our interview made me realize:

Ownership isn’t an issue.  Although the iPad is his mom’s, with her Notes app filled with important data, they don’t bump into any ownership issues… at least not yet.

The iPod Touch can’t compete with the iPad.  His iPod Touch is brand spanking new and yet he still prefers to play Angry Birds, Mr Giggles and Call of Atlantis on the iPad because “it’s more fun on a bigger screen”.

- His mom is his discovery mechanism.  His classmates and younger brother don’t tell him about cool new apps, he learns about games from his mom.  He doesn’t go exploring in the app store or the web for cool new games or apps for kids, although he easily could based on his web searching capabilities.

And just like most adults, he doesn’t know what he wants.  The iPad is doing everything he wants it to do, and he can’t imagine what more it could do for him.

One response

  1. Suites wrote on ::

    We can totally relate to this article…we both had an iPod Touch, which we began to use as a small video device when taking our 1 year old on car rides…really good distraction device for him when it was just mummy in the car…allowed her to get home from day care with a lot less crying (both his and hers!). Now that he is 2 1/2 he has migrated over to my iPad…we allow him to play puzzle games on it every night right after his shower…he prefers is to the iPod, no doubt because he finds the larger screen more captivating, but also because it is easier to manipulate the puzzle pieces on a larger surface area. I see that with the iBooks2 format being rolled out, that hundreds of thousands of textbooks have been downloaded already…Apple has pivoted well to position itself as the learning medium of choice for this generation.