Many of this year’s hottest holiday gifts for kids will be downloadable! In fact, according to a recent survey conducted by PBS Kids, 58% of parents with children ages 2-10 said they are “most likely” and “definitely” planning to purchase downloadable gifts such as apps, games, e-books and digital music.
The ocean of children’s apps can be hard to navigate! That’s why I like to start with companies I know and trust, like PBS Kids. In addition to many educational games, shows and activities, PBS Kids has 20+ educational mobile apps available for download. Parents and Teachers, you’ll want to check these out!
Here are six apps that are sure to become favorites:
- FIZZYS LUNCH LAB Fresh Pick: Search for the Next Lunch Labber Professor Fizzy is holding a competition to see who has what it takes to be the next Lunch Labber! Kids put math and problem solving skills to the test while navigating their way through the grocery store, coming up with the right amount of change in the check-out line, and successfully serving food to a room full of hungry customers. For iPad, Kindle Tablet and Nook Tablet for kids ages 6 – 8.
- DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD “Play at home with Daniel” Playing is learning as kids explore bedtime, bath time ad play pretend doctor at Daniel’s house. For iOS and Android devices, Kindle Tablet and Nook Tablet for kids ages 2+.
- SUPER WHY! ABC Adventures: Alphabet Named one of the Top 25 iPad Apps for kids by TIME.com, kids can play five literacy games while mastering the alphabet. On iOS devices for ages 3+.
- DINOSAUR TRAIN “Mesozoic Math Adventures” Kids develop math skills and explore life sciences, vocabulary and concepts alongside Buddy, Tiny and Don. For iPad, Nook Tablet, Kindle Tablet for kids ages 3+.
- MARTHA SPEAKS Word Spinner Up to four players can join in the fun, with six interactive mini-games that both kids and parents can enjoy together while building storytelling and vocabulary skills. For iPad for kids ages 4+.
- CYBERCHASE 3D BUILDER Kids can help rebuild a town turning 2D shapes into 3D structures while developing spatial and reasoning skills. For iPad for kids ages 6+.
Helpful Children’s App Selection and Use Tips:
1. Keep it Fresh: A good app is the perfect combination of education and entertainment, and should be appropriate for your child’s age and stage of development. Kids are most engaged when the features in an app address as many senses as possible and when these features offer variations on a theme, and are not too repetitive. Keep in mind your child’s age and skill set and choose games that present the right amount of challenge without becoming frustrating.
2. Safety First: Parenting today includes teaching kids how to use digital media responsibly. Help children recognize the difference between information worth sharing and private information. There are many ways you can share your ideas and creativity online, but personal information should remain private.
3. Avoid apps that try to sell: A six- or seven-year-old can’t be expected to distinguish between an entertaining game and advertising. Select apps from trusted, reliable sources, and make sure that they are not trying to market to your child.
4. Play Together: 56% of surveyed parents reported that they co-play mobile apps with their children “often” or “sometimes”. This is a great habit to start early in a child’s exposure to media. Talking with kids about the game or activity as you play offers both the opportunity to bond as a family and also identify teachable moments.
5. Set limits: As with any new toy, parents should set expectations and limitations with their kids. Enjoying downloadable apps and games should be balanced with other offline activities and play.