Parenting Resources

The Latest In Learning Devices: What Works, and What Doesn’t?

In the wake of the huge recall of educational DVDs for babies after a study proved they don’t improve intellect as promised, but can in fact be detrimental to the developing brain, there has been a great deal of controversy over educational tools.  Of the many devices on the market promising to help a child learn faster and improve skills, how can a parent know what really works and what doesn’t?

While there aren’t studies on every possible learning device on the market, there is enough evidence to make a strong case for which type of tool is effective, and which type is less so.  When it comes to learning devices, interactive gadgets and programs earn the best marks from experts. 

“The technologies that benefit young children the greatest are those that are interactive and allow the child to develop their curiosity, problem solving and independent thinking skills,” says Dr. Bruce Perry, Medical Director for Provincial Programs in Children’s Mental Health in the province of Alberta, Canada.

Computer activities and computer like devices provide the best source of interactive learning, according to Dr. Perry.  “Computers allow interaction. Children can control the pace and activity and make things happen on computers.”


Gadgets that are passive provide a less enriching experience, but this can be changed simply by parents stepping in to provide the interaction.  While watching an educational video or television program is generally a passive experience, experts recommend that parents watch the videos with their children and discuss what they are seeing in order to provide the interaction that helps to stimulate the brain.


Learning devices that allow for multiple different learning programs and opportunities are also a good choice; they allow children to be continually challenged and take on new experiences and learning paths.  This makes them not only a good learning tool, but a good investment for parents as well.

When shopping for the newest learning devices, keep these simple tips in mind:

  • Look for devices that are interactive and encourage curiosity

  • Choose devices you can enjoy with your child to enrich the experience

  • Look for multiple different programs that allow your child to choose from a variety of learning experiences and expand horizons

Learning devices are the newest thing on the market for children, and advertising pushes them hard.  While there has been some backlash against them, most experts agree they have a place in the process of learning for today’s technological society.  Choose the correct devices and your child will learn as much as possible.