Tonight marks the start of Rosh Hashanah , a two-day celebration of the Jewish New Year. Every parent with a rambunctious toddler knows there are special challenges with not only keeping them amused, but also teaching them about their faith and why the high holidays are so important. This is why Randi Zuckerberg has teamed up with with G-dcast to create Wake Up World, an interactive app for devices where children (and their grown-ups) learn about the spiritual meaning of the shofar by waking up friends with a mic-enabled virtual shofar.
Randi Zuckerberg: This app has really helped me see how technology can be used to enhance learning and enjoyment. The ability to turn the phone into a shofar has connected him to the story of Rosh Hashanah and gotten him excited about the holiday in a way that I just wouldn't have imagined possible with a 3-year-old. We talk so much about technology as solely related to the future — what's coming next, what's being disrupted. So it's equally fun for me to see how tech can also truly connect us to our past as well. Tech can be a wonderful force for wellness, personal history and spirituality.
RZ: Asher was a prime beta tester for the app! If you can get a 3-year-old excited about a biblical story with an app, and have them ask to keep playing it over and over on their own, then you've done something right. It's a win-win for both of us. He gets to play with mommy's phone, and mommy doesn't feel guilty giving him screen time because I feel like he is learning and connecting to his heritage. Slam dunk. He also inspired the name of the boy character in the app (who is also named Asher).
RZ: Younger children will enjoy the feature of the app that turns your iPhone or Android phone into a shofar (OK, not just younger children — even I enjoy that part) and older children and adults will really like the adorable graphics and story. Plus, I hear there is a really awesome voice-over artist for the app.
RZ: A lot of parents are fearful of technology because they think that children will completely lose all social skills and no longer be able to function outside in the real world. Mine is more a philosophy of everything in moderation. While I don't think the iPad should ever be a babysitter, and is never a replacement for going outside in nature and connecting with other humans face-to-face, I do think there is also a time and place for technology. There are many apps, sites and gadgets that can play a wonderful and rich role in stimulating creativity, learning and bringing families together in new ways. I especially think it's important to introduce young girls to tech at an early age and show that it's totally normal, cool and fun for girls to be tech-savvy.
RZ: I just started hosting a talk radio show for SiriusXM called Dot Complicated that I'm really excited about. It's a weekly one-hour talk radio show on SiriusXM Channel 111, Business Radio, and I bring on guests to debate the wonderful, as well as the complicated sides of all this new technology. Parenting in the digital world is a very popular topic on my show. Even the CEOs building some of the most innovative tech out there struggle with these issues in their own homes, with their own children.
You can download Wake Up World from the Apple iTunes Store.
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