Choosing Better Apps for Your Kids
“Mom, can I please have a new app?” It’s the question I hear DAILY. When you visit the app store, it can seem overwhelming with so many choices. Downloading an app can make your tablet or phone a gaming system, a learning tool or the best way to discover what your friends are doing both online and offline. Apps are tools that can be educational, entertaining or ideally, both. The biggest challenge is figuring out which apps to allow your children to have. There is no one size fits all answer because what you download will depend on your family rules and values. Developing guidelines for your children and their app use will help when your child begs for the latest app.
Here are some ideas to consider when selecting an app.
1) Is the app educational or entertaining or both? You can figure this out from the developer’s description of what happens in the app.
2) Look to see who developed the app. If you are looking for something educational, is it an established educational company or did the developers partner with education experts? What are they claiming the app will do? Do they have any research to back up their claims?
3) Read carefully any ratings or reviews. Consider doing a web search of the developer and the app’s name online.
4) For whom is the app recommended? There is usually an age rating, like they have for movies. It will give examples of why it scored its rating.
5) Check to see if there are any in-app purchases. Even “free” or “lite” versions of an app can lead to financial requests. Many of my boys’ apps started free and then gave them the choice to buy items, with real money, as they continued to play.
6) Look into parental controls. Many devices have settings that allow you to monitor your child’s screen time and to set limitations on what your children can download. Remember to check those devices periodically for anything new because kids can be inventive. For example, I disabled the Internet browser on my young son’s iPad but he discovered the spotlight search that allowed him to access the Internet.
If you are interested in teaching your kids more about managing screen time, check out the book series, Clicker the Cat. Visit www.clickerthecat.com today!