A Project of the Child Trends News Service Supported by the National Science Foundation

Choosing the Right Apps for Kids

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Mobile phone and tablet use by kids under the age of eight is up by 1000 percent over the past several years. With all of those apps claiming to be educational, how can parents recognize the valid apps from plain, old digital candy? A new research study provides parents with tips for making the right picks for your children.

Tablets and phones have access to thousands of apps—many for free, all claiming to be educational. But how can parents tell which ones are of value?

“Here you have these platforms that are dying for content and the kids are virtually addicted too,” said Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD, a professor of psychology at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Even the most dedicated parents can’t preview thousands of apps, so most just do what they can.

“I don’t think I would let her necessarily pick something on her own without me checking it out or googling it first,” parent, Jenny Ferguson, told Ivanhoe.

To help parents like Jenny be more definitive about which apps help kids learn, Hirsh-Pasek launched a study to help define the educational, in so-called educational apps. The study found that there are features that parents should look for.

“These kind of features popped out of the literature: being active, socially interactive, and has a learning goal,” detailed Hirsh-Pasek.

Those pillars of learning are the foundation and here are the building blocks for a powerful decision-making formula: apps that encourage social interaction, exploration, and creativity. An app should engage children like a parent would. Also, the app should not be complicated or a child might lose interest.

Hirsh-Pasek said, “Take a peek at what your kid is doing. If you don’t like what you see, or it’s something common sense goes, nix, then don’t do it.”

Parents can visit www.commonsensemedia.org for more information on choosing educational apps and providing the best e-learning experience for the kids.

Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Donner Parker, Field Producer; Milvionne Chery, News Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; Kirk Manson, Videographer.

Produced by Child Trends News Service in partnership with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. 

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