The large variety of available apps for kids on iPhone, Androids, and tablets can overwhelm any parent! Don't worry, we've got some tips and suggestions that may help you navigate the modern world of tech.
Apps for Kids a Gateway into the Digital Learning World
It’s best for kids to spend as much time as possible outdoors in the fresh air. But it’s also important to teach them how to deal responsibly with modern technology and social media as early as possible. By the time they start school, most children won't be able to avoid using the internet. Many schools will even offer students their own tablets and laptops for educational purposes.
Whether they're gaming apps or learning apps, there's plenty of room for technology in the modern world of learning.
Follow the App Manufacturer’s Instructions
Not every app is suitable for each child or age group, even if it's considered a "family app". Before you download it to your smartphone or tablet, you can see how manufacturers specify the intended age groups for their products. Scanning the reviews from others also gives you a good sense of the ages of children enjoying the app.
Parents should also ensure that the app does not cause sensory overload. Bright colors, loud sounds, and music, fast movement – all of these tend to overstimulate children's senses. Before your child uses the app alone for the first time, test it yourself. Through settings, you will be able to customize the app for your child. Music and ambient noise, for example, can be switched off.
Advertising and In-App Purchases
Pay special attention to advertising banners and in-app purchases. Just because the app is "free" does not mean you won't be bombarded by extra spam!
You can explain to older children that they should not click on blinking images at the edge of the screen, but it is so easy for small children to inadvertently click on an ad. In many cases, it pays to invest directly in an ad-free, pro-version of the app. Although you will have to initially invest a small amount of money, you will avoid costs in the end. Also, your child will not be constantly being redirected from the app to advertising offers. This way, he or she will be able to use the app with more independence without getting frustrated. Some smartphones and tablets also offer the possibility to avoid in-app purchases by modifying your app settings.
Using Apps for Kids Anywhere
We recommend an app for your children that can be used offline as well. Particularly on long journeys, apps are a great pastime for kids. Don't forget that many apps will require an internet connection for full functionality. If you're comfortable with using mobile data (especially if you have unlimited data), then you're in the clear. Otherwise, we highly recommend choosing an app that's functional offline.
Apps for Kids: Where Do We Start?
Many parents have trouble selecting the right app for their child despite recommendations, and we don't blame them! There are so many to choose from! If you're unsure whether an app is age-appropriate for your child, try looking it up on Common Sense Media first. They have plenty of parent and manufacturer reviews that will help guide your decision.
Need a starting point? Does your child have a favorite TV series or cartoon character? Chances are, they have their own app! Look for smartphone and tablet app recommendations featuring them. Even better, find a learning app with their favorite cartoons. Daniel Tiger is one of the most popular characters in children's programming, and PBS makes an App featuring Daniel and his friends! Whether they're learning shapes, the alphabet, spelling, or math, there are plenty of great options out there!
Great Apps for Kids
Here are some great interactive kids apps to check out:
- AlphaTots: AlphaTots is another great app to check out for children age 4 and up! Whether they're "building" robots, "digging" for treasure, or "zapping" alien spaceships, they'll have a blast learning all of the letters and their sounds.
- Duck Duck Moose: This company creates a series of educational and free apps that encourage kids to explore and learn in a safe and fun environment. These games are great for kids from pre-K to 1st grade. Whether its curriculum, nursery rhymes, or creative expression, or entertainment, you're sure to find an app to suit your little one.
- RelationShapes: This easy-to-use puzzle app will strengthen your child's visual-spatial reasoning and allow them to use creative expression and problem solving through open-ended play. It's appropriate for age 3 and up, so even little ones can use this one!
- DragonBox: These math games teach children ages 4 and up the basic concepts of algebra! Their multiple apps can be great for
- Duolingo Kids: If you're looking to introduce your child to a foreign language, the earlier you start, the better. So check out DuoLingo Kids and you can teach dozens of languages to your kids, from French to Farsi.
- TocaBoca: If commercial TV show characters aren't your favorite, check out the apps from TocaBoca or SagoMini. These companies make apps that are appropriate for preschool age and older and aren't overstimulating. You have to pay for most of the features, but your kids won't have to sit through lots of ads.
- FamilyApp is another great starting point for your children who may want to be on social media. It's completely encrypted, so all of their information is private, and they'll be chatting with trusted family members, instead of potential strangers.
Finding the Right Apps for Your Kids
While many smaller app companies are fantastic, sticking to apps with many positive reviews and a good reputation can be helpful if you're looking for a certain degree of quality. Even if you trust a brand, you should still take a good look at the app before downloading it. If you want to save time, you can consult the internet for various product tests and assessments. Certain apps also receive quality labels and certificates- so look for those to make your search for a good learning app even easier.
Remember, not even the best family app can replace communication and interactions between a child and parent. Apps can be a fun treat, but even the most educational app doesn't compare with all the wonderful things your child learns from you. Don't stress, you've got this