For many parents and carers, the idea of giving their child a tablet or smartphone makes them clutch at their chest. “They’ll get addicted! Their eyes will go square!! They’ll upload a video to YouTube of me falling down the stairs that’ll go viral!!!”
Relax folks. Giving your kids access to tech can actually be a great way to open their eyes to the world around them.
Here are some of our favourite ways technology can help get your child outdoors and more in touch with nature. And some of them are so cool, you’ll probably want to get involved too
1. Get to know our native fauna
Learn about what types of fauna live near you with these awesome National Field Guide apps, compiled by Australia’s major natural history museums. The guides are broken down by state, and provide detailed info on a range of different mammals, birds, frogs (and more), as well as audio calls, beautiful imagery and maps. A great one to try at home or on holiday.
2. A different kind of Twitter
We’re not all lucky enough to have echidnas and wombats in our backyards, but most Australians have access to birds. Whether they’re nesting in your garden, sitting on the powerline outside your house, or swooping by on your way to school, birds are all over the place! Use the Smart Bird ID and start a tally of the different types of birds in your neighbourhood. You can even download Australia’s Top 40 bird songs (they’ll make everyone feel chirpy – sorry not sorry).
3. Butterflies are so passé
So keep an eye out for moths instead, with the Bogong Moth Tracker. The critically endangered Mountain Pygmy possum relies on Bogong Moths for a scrumptious dinner. But recently, the big moths have flown a little off the radar. This interactive app allows users to photograph Bogong Moths and upload to a moth tracker. How cool is it, knowing that you’re helping save an endangered species?
4. Spy on your favourite animals
The team at the Melbourne Zoo have set up hidden cameras in their most popular (and elusive) animal’s enclosures and are live streaming their antics. Watch otters playing in their den, lions eating lunch, or penguins parading around their pool. The WWF Together app is brilliant for kids to learn about the world’s endangered species, and provides patterns for super-cute origami animals for you to make yourself.
5. Stargaze like a pro
For kids (and grownups) who are into space, NASA has a free app that allows users to watch a live stream of earth from the International Space Station, get info on NASA’s current missions (including launch and landing times), and track satellites in real time. The SkyView Lite app is another awesome one; identify stars, planets and satellites, simply by pointing your phone at the night sky!
6. Open your mind to this big, wide world
More than ever before, we need to care for our planet, and this awesome series of videos from TED Ed (the team behind TED) is a really good place to start. Designed for kids, parents and teachers, these clips are all about thinking differently, asking questions, and opening your mind to the possibilities around you.
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