4 Reasons Why Kids Should Make Art On Tablets

Jan 17, 2017

Even if you don’t have them downloaded to your tablet or smartphone, you probably figured that there is an entire gallery of drawing and art apps. Some parents might roll their eyes at this sort of digital creativity as a substitute for the real thing, but if you’re a paper purist convinced pencils and paints are the only way to go for your little ones, you might want to head back to the drawing board.

Making art on computers can have a lot of advantages for you, your kids and the state of your home. Whether an app like Drawing Pad — a standard art program on your laptop — or a specialized set of digital toys, touchscreen canvases may not replace real art time for you, but here are four reasons why adding them to the mix is a good idea.

1. Less mess over which to stress

Making a mess is part of any true artist’s creative process. Sure, you can try to prep by draping your kids in smocks, covering the table in flyers, only half-filling that yogurt tub with water and begging the kiddos not to touch anything. Ultimately, there’s still going to be some sort of multi-hued disaster when they finish (or give up halfway).

Washable paints and erasable markers (as long as permanent ones aren't accidentally mixed in) reduce the threat of colour explosions or accidental graffiti. Still, for those times where a quick cleaning of your space or your kid’s face is tricky, or if you’re travelling by car or sitting somewhere in public, having impressionist chaos confined to a screen offers peace of mind. And, unlike traditional Etch-a-Sketches, unfinished masterpieces can be put on hold and resumed later.

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2. Your fridge gallery is already full

The first time your darling daughter created an abstract, you were so excited you had it professionally framed. Now, your refrigerator is covered with mixed-media family portraits and crayon landscapes, and your drawers are overfull of stencilled still-lifes. Digital art, however, is not hard to store.

There’s a slew of art-archiving apps aimed particularly at parents, but if you can save images as JPGs, you can probably figure out a quicker way to organize things on your laptop or cloud. To display them proudly, your kid could always curate gallery showings on the big screen or, even better, you could buy one of those digital photo frames to cycle them through. A 64-gigabyte card can hold more than 15,000 12-megapixel images — that’s quite a bit more than your fridge.

Of course, if you feel like art needs to be tactile to be appreciated, you can always print out the best of the best. (And if you don’t own a printer, your local library or office store does.)

3. New ways to share masterpieces (or tackle artistic collaborations)

Having all this art stored digitally means you can also share it easily via e-mail or instant-messaging apps. Not only can the grands (or aunties, cousins, or friends) quickly see pieces, but they can also commission your kids with specific artistic requests. (Sure, you can also take a photo of traditionally created paintings or drawings, but this way you don’t have to worry about lighting or blurriness.)

Sending image files back and forth also opens the door to collaborations or challenges. For example, maybe your son draws something amazing, and then his favourite uncle colours it in, adds a cool background, or draws what happens next. Having art saved digitally also gives you the opportunity to repurpose your drawings for holiday cards or birthday invitations.

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4. High-tech tools can mean better prep for the future

Kids learn blue plus red makes purple pretty early in life, but playing in Photoshop can really reinforce colour theory. Your middle-schoolers might not quite get CMYK versus RGB or be ready to memorize their fave Pantone hues, but seeing how colours can be combined or interpreted as numbers and percentages provides the basis of understanding that will serve them well in later science and math lessons.

Speaking of preparing for the future, it’s important to know lots of artists — from cartoonists making comics, to graphic designers envisioning billboards, to fine artists angling for a spot in Canadian galleries — are replacing their brushes and pencils for iPad Pros and Wacom Cintiqs. Of course, most of them are not using their fingers on a touchscreen or a mouse — they’re holding a stylus. You can find a kid-friendly one, but try to make sure it doesn’t get broken or lost. When it comes to drawing tools, price point is one place traditional markers and paints come out on top.

Article Author Erik Missio
Erik Missio

Read more from Erik here.

Erik Missio used to live in Toronto, have longish hair and write about rock ‘n’ roll. He now lives in the suburbs, has no hair and works in communications. He and his wife are the proud parents of a nine-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy, both of whom are pretty great. He received his MA in journalism from the University of Western Ontario.

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