Keeping kids safe remains one of the most time-honored parental tasks. It’s become a little more complicated in the digital age, however. Now, moms and dads don’t just have to make sure their children use car seats or wear bike helmets. They also have to be certain that their children's apps are age-appropriate and useful, too.
There’s little argument that apps have become a mainstay part of daily life for families. And they’re one of the reasons preschoolers spend up to five hours daily in front of screens, middle schoolers up to six hours, and teens up to nine hours. But the search for the perfect apps can be overwhelming for parents. Today, there are nearly 16,000 child-centered apps in the App Store. Most aren’t worthwhile. That means moms and dads have to make an effort to find the best of the best.
Pinpointing Trustworthy Kids’ Apps
If you’re a parent or guardian trying to sift through thousands of app possibilities, you’ll be relieved to know the fastest ways to narrow your initial search. First, consider what you want out of an app. Do you want something broadly educating that promotes playlearning? Are you looking for an app to teach a specific skill like multiplication? Answering that question will help you weed out possibilities.
Next, consult with other parents whose kids seem to be balancing their digital use well. Find out what apps they prefer and why. A 15-minute conversation can avoid a 15-day wild goose chase online! Finally, look up which apps have won awards or accolades for content. See whether any of those apps dovetail with what you need and fit with your budget. Be sure to try them before you hand them to your child.
Choosing Among App Types
As you go on this journey, you’re likely to encounter a variety of app types. Below are the four most prevalent to consider allowing your child to use.
1. Educational apps
These apps put learning before anything else, though the content needs to be engaging for the app to be effective. The goal of educational apps is to transfer knowledge. For example, PBS Kids Video features high-quality content that’s been rigorously tested and is aimed at learners ages 3 and older.
2. Relaxing apps
Kids need to destress just as much as adults do. Apps can help get kids through stressful periods and teach healthy coping mechanisms. The Sesame Street Breathe, Think, and Do app comes to mind. It’s been designed as a tool to enable children to handle confusing feelings.
3. Language skill apps
Understanding how to think critically, communicate verbally, and write confidently is essential in and out of the classroom. Encouraging apps like Lingokids that fuel language skill understanding in fun ways lets children find and explore their powerful voices.
4. Interactive educational apps
Children adore interaction. That’s good news because interactive exchanges help app users retain more information — even if they don’t realize it. Silly Street Learn and Play app uses a game format that feels intuitive and silly but keeps active learning front and center.
Ultimately, putting your seal of approval on all the kids’ apps you allow on your household devices doesn’t have to be frustrating or confusing. Just do a little legwork and watch your children blossom.