Eric is a really independent baby. He knows exactly what he wants and isn't afraid to let you know about it. He doesn't really like to do what you want him to and would rather attempt to do it himself. Which is great - just a tad frustrating when he doesn't understand that there are some things you do still need to help him with.
One thing that he has started to take complete ownership over however is his learning. He catches on to things really quickly and will spend ages figuring out how things work just so that he knows how to use them himself. And one tool that he loves to use and will gravitate to again and again is the Hopster app.
As a mum I am always a bit careful with how much technology Eric is exposed to. If he watches things on television or YouTube I try my best to opt for educational shows or songs (with the exception of any Disney princess film, which he just loves). So when the chance to try Hopster out came up, I didn't hesitate in expressing my interest. He was already curious about my phone and this way, it would get him away from trying to call random people from my contacts list and give him something to focus on.
I waited a little while before I installed Hopster on our iPad. Eric only turned one in April and I wanted to make sure he was would really be getting something out of it. Initially a lot of it was me directing his play, showing him what everything did and pressing the screen so he could watch the shows I thought he might like. The games were an instant hit and in particular 'Monster Match' (a shape recognition and matching game). I would talk about all the different shapes and he thought the monsters were absolutely hilarious.
Gradually, over the course of a few weeks the concept of a touch screen caught on and Eric was starting to learn how to navigate things himself. And if there were things he could not do he would guide my hand to show me what he wanted to happen on screen. Pretty soon he was doing everything himself and it was incredible to see him match shapes correctly in 'Monster Match' and remember where pairs were in 'Rock Flip' (another favourite game of his). He had no trouble choosing songs he wanted to hear or shows he felt like watching and he started to ask to have Hopster on on a regular basis.
Of course there are aspects of the app that he is just too young for. His knowledge and understanding is growing at a rapid rate and although the app caters for quite a varied age range you can tell which games he will struggle with or get frustrated trying to use. So although he is pretty much in control of using the app, I do need to 'encourage' him to click on things I know he won't have a meltdown about if he can't figure things out.
From a parenting point of view I am also really enjoying reaping the benefits that Hopster brings. One of the main ones being that there is downloadable content. This has been a godsend to Ryan and me on several occasions. The first was when we had to take Eric to A&E (how we would have kept him entertained for hours without Hopster I have no idea) and the other was on a weekend away in a B&B. Eric woke up in the middle of the night inconsolably screaming and it really helped calm him down (and us keep our sanity).
Before I was a parent I always thought I wouldn't have any faith in technology as a learning aide but now that we've been using Hopster I've totally changed my mind. I genuinely think it has brought him along. And I never thought I'd say that about an app. He is excellent at matching shapes now, whether on the app, or doing a puzzle and his confidence has spilled over into other areas of his development. Give it a few more months and I really think he'll be telling us about the shapes he sees and what he wants to watch rather than telling us!
Hopster is a completely child safe space with no annoying ads and a carefully curated selection of videos, songs and games that are 100% appropriate for your child. It is great fun for Eric to use as a 19 month old but I think older children would really enjoy using it too.
Want to know more? Head over to the Hospter website to have an explore and start your free trial.
Lifestyle Imagery: Rachel Clarke Photography