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14 January 2016

Can Children Learn Real-Life Skills Through the iPad?

Keywords: iPad, learning, movies, Australia & Oceania, experiment, kids, tablet,

A study in Computers in Human Behavior investigated whether children can learn problem-solving skills on an iPad and subsequently apply these skills in the real world. The study shows that this is indeed the case.

Take aways

  • Children can learn problem-solving skills through iPad practice.
  • The problem-solving skills of the children who practice on the iPad are similar to those who practice only with a physical version of the problem-solving task.
  • For parents and educators it’s good to know that the iPad can be a helpful learning tool for children.

Study information

  • The question?

    Can children learn problem-solving skills on an iPad and successfully apply these skills in the real world?

  • Who?

    Study 1: 50 4- to 6-year olds (mean age: 5 years; 46% were boys)

    Study 2: 18 4- to 6-year olds (mean age: 5 years; 50% were boys)

  • Where?


  • How?

    Study 1: Children played a problem-solving puzzle (Tower of Hanoi) on an iPad (2D) and the real version (3D). Before playing the puzzle children were divided in two groups. In the transfer condition, children first played the real version puzzle once, then two times on the iPad and afterwards they had to solve the real version puzzle again. In the non-transfer condition, children only played the 3D puzzle. The children’s activity was recorded with a screen-recording application and camera. Afterwards, children’s number of moves to solve the puzzle and time per move was coded.

    Study 2: All the children practiced solving the puzzle on the iPad (2D), after which they solved the real version of the puzzle (3D). The measurements were identical to study 1.

Facts and findings

Study 1:


  • Children in the transfer condition, improved at the problem-solving task through practice on their iPad.
  • The extent of this improvement was similar to that of the children in the non-transfer condition, who only practiced solving the real version of the puzzle.

Study 2:



  • Children needed less moves and time per move to solve the real version puzzle after practicing solving the puzzle several times on the iPad.