Developing Visual Discrimination Skills
We received a wonderful email recently from a speech pathologist who gave us a very important suggestion for improving iBaby Buttons. She requested that we add white or solid color backgrounds to our background selections in the app in order to aid in visual background discrimination for babies. Wow. I can’t believe we didn’t think about that before. It will certainly be included in our upcoming update.
The term visual discrimination can mean the ability to see differences in objects, as well as the ability to distinguish objects from their backgrounds. This is a skill that develops bit by bit over time. As a child gets older, this skill improves. For babies, having a solid color background will make it much easier to distinguish the colorful buttons from the background. Adding solid background options to iBaby Buttons will provide a great opportunity for parents to observe their child’s progress in this area. Are there any differences in the child’s interactions with the buttons on a solid background as opposed to a busier one?
Just for fun, I found a website devoted to eye exercises for improving skills for perception, tracking, focusing and eye teaming. I clicked on a link for “figure ground” and was directed to a page of photographs with hidden pictures. I found it quite interesting that some of the photographs took me quite some time distinguish the hidden picture from the background. I guess this is a skill even adults have room to improve. It really makes me wonder what it is like for a baby.
So, why are these skills important? There is a great article on Buzzle.com entitled Hand-eye Coordination and Visual Discrimination Key to Literacy by Deanna Mascle. According to this article, “Research shows that early practice of hand-eye coordination activities reduces the risk of reading difficulties.” She goes on to discuss ways of encouraging visual discrimination in children. Examples of activities that encourage these skills include puzzles, matching games, playing peek-a-boo, and simply playing with toys. While these skills can both be practiced using iBaby Buttons on the iPad, this article recommends turning off the television and all electronic devices in favor of play. Parents and educators agree that play is very important in the development of young children and truly how they learn.
I agree wholeheartedly that play is essential and too much television and other passive forms of entertainment can be potentially harmful to my children if over used. I also believe that the iPad, if used correctly, can also offer many benefits to my child. As in all things, the key is moderation and parental involvement. Let’s face it, technology is here. And the iPad is so incredibly fascinating to young ones. As a mom, it is my job to be involved in my children’s learning experiences whether it is through traditional play or through experiences with technology. And as developers, it is our job to consider user needs, especially when making apps for children.
We are so very grateful to receive such a helpful suggestion about our app. This is a perfect example of why feedback is so important to developers.