How Tech Will Transform the Traditional Classroom

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Thank you for a comprehensive treatment of an important subject. I will share it widely. As a child psychiatrist, I see learning as most powerful in a social context. With this caveat in mind, there is great power and time saving possible for educators to personalize instruction.

With Apple’s new Mac tool Configurator, enabling duplication of content among iPad devices, an app like ZillyDilly for iPad, that provides childproofed curated online content customizable by the educator, can bring teacher-modifiable libraries of assets like website lesson plans to individual as well as groups of students.

For example, teachers can use age-appropriate online sites to enrich whole classroom instruction, fulfill IEP goals, and as starting points of student projects. With ZillyDilly students cannot wander off to unassigned sites, so teachers stay in control and can choose from preselected categories and monitor usage.

Additionally, for example, teachers can collaborate with parents in encouraging healthy and safe Internet use and coordinate with other teachers and librarians; find bilingual sites and those with teacher/parent guides easily for appropriate age groups, introduce young children to the Internet safely and gently, moreover, search ZillyDilly’s extensive database as you create Media Plans to engage students by increasing exposure in areas already of interest to them.

Teachers can also occasionally treat students to special fun journeys on your own iPad (via TV or overhead projection) to sites not included in ZillyDilly’ database. For example, a student may want to learn how ice cream is made, or jellybeans, or dolls and their hospitals.

Parents: Give Your Used iPad to Your Child, Start Preparing Now

Use Used iPads to Benefit Children

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Used iPads sales are going through the roof as owners are ordering new devices. But if you are a parent or grandparent, consider handing your old iPad to your child or else consider donating it to a school or hospital pediatric department.

“If parents manage the handover correctly, children could benefit enormously from wonderful educational apps and the Internet itself. Children as young as preschoolers are as eager for the glamorous hand-me-down from mom or dad as mom and dad are for their brand new iPad out of the box,” according to Eitan Schwarz, MD, Chicago child and adolescent psychiatrist and inventor of ZillyDilly, an iPad browser to customize and childproof the Internet for kids.

“The younger the child, the lesser the difference between toys and tools. So when you hand an iPad over to a child, you must prepare both the child and the toy, which is not really a toy but a tool,” according to Dr. Schwarz, also faculty member at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and expert in children’s media use.

* Because little actual data are available for the safety and efficacy of interactive tablets, parents must not leave preschoolers unsupervised. In fact, the best use of iPads for these youngsters is to promote family interactivity, and the worst is alone-time with the device.

* Expectations: “Setting expectations and attitudes is an essential first step that may take some time, so start weeks before the handover. Get the kids used to the idea that you are in charge and use access to the new toy as an opportunity to make technology finally work for good parenting, not against it. Make it into a positive force for the child’s development and family life. For example, childproof and get control of the Internet before agreeing to any other apps, whatever age the child,” urges Dr. Schwarz.

* Childproofing the device features is necessary if a hand-me-down. According to Richard Buday, FAIA, President of Houston’s Archimage and developer of ZillyDilly, this means removing all existing settings, apps and information from an iPad by tapping Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings. You may also wish to inactivate the Safari browser and other features of the iPad via the Settings menu.

* Physical risks are rare but possible. While tablets are overwhelmingly helpful as educational, medical and assistive tools for special needs kids, parents should also be alert to potential physical risks, including head, neck, and shoulder injuries from postural strains, already reported in adults, and possible but seemingly quite rare problems including eye strain, injuries from glass breakage, and screen flicker triggering epileptic seizures.

*  Learning and emotional hazards have received much more scientific attention. Excessive, unbalanced, and unsupervised screen time can be associated with obesity and deficits in social and intellectual growth an possibly be with more serious problems of media overuse in older kids. However, recent Guidance by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and ?the? Fred? Rogers? Center? also described potential benefits to very young children,  moderating earlier warnings by the American Academy of Pediatrics and essentially sanctioning greater parental discretion.

* Maximize benefits and lessen conflicts: “I urge parents to take charge from the start and introduce the iPad as a family appliance, set rules, limit time, and provide a balance of experiences appropriate to the age and needs of each child,” states Dr. Schwarz, also a researcher in technology use in play therapy and author of “Kids, parents & Technology: A Guide for Young Families”.

– Use the device as much as possible for social, multi-person interactivity

– Gently and firmly introduce new IPad  rules and habits and media-free times and zones

– Always focus children on how the iPad can benefit family life

– Place and charge the device in a common area in your home and limit alone time

– Include grandparents and siblings

*  Fit a balanced experience to each child:

– Make sure “educational” apps are truly educational and fit your child needs by consulting with a teacher

– Carefully tailor content and times, especially allowed alone time, to age group and each child

– Introduce preschoolers to a child-proofed device only when you are fully present and undistracted

– Gradually expand privileges for responsible mature kids to eventually allow media

independence by mid-teens

– Use diverse free Internet content as well as apps to balance entertainment with enrichment of family relationships, socialization, values education, and extra-curricular learning to develop a well- rounded, informed, and competent children

* Develop your kids’ positive lifelong media consumption habits early to and prevent later problems. Using the iPad, children can supplement learning:

– Self-discipline, zeal for discovery essential for excellence, creative imaginative play, time and information management, and planning and organizational skills

– To make balanced media choices that improve growth and avoid mediocrity, or worse

– Healthy media self-care as essential as good hygiene and nutrition

– To demythologize the magic while at the same time appreciating the actual workings of these technologies and brilliant man-made design and engineering skills they too could someday emulate

Inventing an Internet Good for Kids: ZillyDilly’s Free Offer Extended to Welcome Apple’s Next iPad

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The world’s first iPad browser for kids now free for a limited time in celebration of Apple’s new iPad.

The ZillyDilly app is extending its limited-time free offer to new iPad owners. According to Dr. Eitan Schwarz, CEO of MyDigitalFamily, Ltd., “Inventing an Internet good for children is our calling at ZillyDilly, and we are eager for the new iPad to make children’s online experience more fun and healthy.”


ZillyDilly is a new kind of tablet browser that blends entertainment and educational experiences while encouraging responsible web use for children of all ages.

ZillyDiIly is maintained by child development experts who find, inspect and rate thousands of websites against proprietary metrics: Family Relationships, Socialization, Values Education and Education Enrichment and Entertainment.

The app guides parents to customize these hand-picked sites into a gender and age-adjusted balance for each child: browsing and previewing sites from ranked annotated lists, searching by child interests and filtering for bilingual sites or those with parent/teacher manuals. ZillyDilly then offers kids only sites selected by parents, and timers suggest or control maximum daily time and weekly times. ZillyDilly also blocks ads and other off-task activities, and reports to parents exactly how the child has been browsing through a cloud-based solution.

ZillyDilly grows with children. Parents can introduce children as young as preschoolers to the Internet. As the child grows, ZillyDilly adjusts timers, age group assignments and site choices as needed, and gradually expands privileges to encourage responsible, mature online behavior.


Dr. Eitan Schwarz, CEO of MyDigitalFamily, Ltd., is a board-certified family expert, thought leader and published researcher in practice for more than 40 years. He is also a faculty member at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

“Apple continues to provide visionary leadership in aligning technology to benefit kids and families. I am delighted that ZillyDilly can participate in this great mission,” states Dr. S.

Getting Kids Ready for the New iPad and Beyond

As the buzz grows with Apple’s new iPad’s launch this week, children will continue to covet the magic tablet more than any other toy.  Parents must now keep learning how to better use these devices because these are not toys but actually brilliantly engineered adult tools. In fact, if we really think about it, the iPad is a disembodied robot presaging its more advanced progeny. And in the case of kids, these robots will doubtlessly be settling into our kids’ cribs within less than a decade if we let our current carelessness continue.

It is easy to understand why parents have a hard time resisting their children’s clamor. Parents intuitively understand that an iPad is abundant with novel stimuli to kids’ fascination and engagement. Kids crave it precisely because nature has gifted them with the ‘wow’ experience — powerful curiosity that leads to intense focusing, learning, and growing their minds just as their brains are developing fastest. The good news is that this is also the time for parents to help kids achieve their best brain potential. It is the right time for parents to help properly wire their children’s brains positively for a lifetime.

It is time for parents to begin teaching their children positive media consumption habits early:

– follow a simple tenet, “A device only belongs in my child’s hands or in my home only if I am sure that it will enrich my children’s development and my family’s health.”

– make sure apps and other media are truly effective as educational, and not just claimed to be. Check with your child’s teachers before you buy.

– balance content, prioritizing Family Relationships, Socialization, Values Education, Education Enrichment, and limiting Entertainment.

– tie media consumption to developmental age and maturity: Introduce preschoolers to various media only in a fully-involved, thoughtful and focused way; be flexible and respectful, and avoid major conflict; gradually expand privileges for responsible, mature kids to eventually allow media independence by mid to late teens; and accommodate special needs individuals.

– teach that healthy media self-care is an ongoing process that starts early, like good hygiene and nutrition, and includes self-discipline, zeal for discovery essential for excellence, time and information management, and planning and organizational skills.

– keep homework time and mealtimes totally media-free, and create media-free zones and times at home and in the car.

– park and charge cell phones  near the front door upon entering the house.

– keep the iPad and other devices in central common family areas subject to age-dependent limits on private use and alone time.

– keep positive media consumption and its monitoring an ongoing family project and conversation topic.

Some general help from experts and industry could orient parents and teachers and clearly empower them to manage children’s entire digital experience as fully as possible:

–  enable parents and teachers to put practices into effect that align technologies with what is good for growing kids and families and teach our kids the boundaries between man and machine, tool and toy, entertainment and striving towards fuller potential.

– clarify for parents and teachers making purchasing decisions about balancing kids’ developmental needs and limiting entertainment.

– provide a consistent, balanced, comprehensive transportable system for homes, schools, libraries, and healthcare.

– assist parents and teachers by organizing all media opportunities and deliver them in ways easy to  manage.

– support quality applications, research, and development for special needs.

Luckily, with technology moving forward so fast, we keep getting new chances to thoughtfully improve its uses to help rather then harm kids’ growth and development. Instead of yet again merely allowing market fads and mediocre pop-culture shape the future of the crucial area of kids and technology, we now have yet another chance to use technologies to substantially benefit child development and family life. In fact, some mobile apps, online sites, e-books, and active games for consoles are good beginnings. Now is the time for parents, educators, government, media, and tech companies to seriously collaborate with fresh new ideas.

And there is no place like home to start.