(NC) If you think your three-year-old can work an iPad better than you, you’re probably right. But that shouldn’t automatically worry you — just like every new technology that came before it, including television, panic about its impact on kids is often overblown. In fact, research shows that a new communications technology isn’t inherently good or bad, it’s what you do with it that counts. So embrace your young new media wizards by understanding how they can learn with smart tech.

1. Inspire creativity. Smart technology often stimulates non-linear thinking, problem solving, hand-eye coordination, and imagination. Look for apps and games that pose riddles, ask them to solve puzzles, or involve designing something original.

2. Improve on basic school subjects. If your kids are struggling to keep up in math, history, English, or any subject, there’s an app or game designed to help make learning fun. And because kids will see this as play time rather than study time, they’ll happily focus on developing the skills they’re lacking.

3. Learn more about their health. It’s hard being a kid with a chronic illness or health condition. “Now there are gaming apps that kids can play to learn more about their health,” says Lynn Renouf, a registered nurse with EMD Serono’s patient support program. By learning more about an illness or health condition in a fun way, children become more aware and may better understand what they’re dealing with.

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