As a mommy, I have lots to learn about the life of children. As much as I want them to be comfortable in the digital age, I find that analog ways are sometimes good ways.
My three pre-schoolers are Mac centric, know their way around a keyboard and mouse, and master children’s games with ease. If kids love crayons and coloring books, and they do, then what do they think of the digital versions?
Is Digital Easy Or Fun?
Our family Mac (read that as the oldest, slowest, won’t-cry-if-it-breaks Mac in the house) is loaded with a few dozen apps for children. Games, alphabet and numbering apps, and a few coloring books.
At first, Fast Rabbit Software’s Coloring Book app seems just like an easy-to-use onscreen Mac coloring book.
It comes without the mess of the crayons or markers (trust me, crayons are better than markers), or the stack of 27 coloring books of dinosaurs, or, the ripped and torn pages of one child’s artistic achievement which another child transforms into a wad of paper stuffed into the nearest dog food bowl (dogs like coloring books).
Coloring Book is what you expect on a Mac—digital images in black and white: clowns, insects, trees, fish, dogs, cats, kids, horses, shapes. Over 100 such digital pages. Each page comes with a color palette appropriate for the image.
All the child has to do is mouse to the color palette, select a color, mouse to the appropriate location on the image, and click. The color fills in automatically.
It’s a perfect coloring book and that’s good, right?
Not so fast. There’s no coloring involved. It’s point and click and instant gratification. Click and the selected color goes into the image perfectly.
Wrong color? Mistakes are immediately eliminated. Grab another color and repeat the steps. All the colors are perfectly placed within the lines.
Yes, it’s clean, and neat, and there’s no mess, no crayons to sharpen, no fear of finding a butterfly drawn, literally, onto your Mac’s screen. Unlike a real coloring book, which requires increased hand-eye coordination and improving motor skills to master, pre-school children can whiz through Coloring Book’s pages in minutes.
Modern, Not Better
Along the way, the child doesn’t gain the satisfaction from keeping colors within the lines, or learn how to cope with the disappointment of coloring over the lines, or the sense of accomplishment from improving coloring skills over time.
That’s my beef. Digital Coloring Book is faster, easier, cleaner, neater, relatively inexpensive (on a per page basis), and doesn’t kill any trees. There’s even an iPad version for children so blessed with their own or with access to a parent’s iPad.
For the child, though, I worry that there’s little sense of satisfaction, no coping with rules or disappointment, and no joy from advancing skills when hand-eye coordination and motor skills improve as the child grows. That’s a mommy talking, right?