Friday, March 4, 2011

it's an app world

The other day I watched a two year old take his mom's iphone out of her purse, open a game, and play it.  Two years old!  There is no question apps are changing the way kids play and learn.  In my perfect world, kids would spend their entire early childhood climbing trees and building forts and picking flowers and painting and drawing and sculpting and socializing... but it's 2011.  Kids are playing with apps.

When I entered grad school as a naive 23 year old with no children of my own, I wasn't interested in working in children's television because I felt strongly that kids shouldn't watch too much TV.  But then I met a wise woman who challenged my thinking.  She convinced me that whether I like it or not, kids ARE watching TV.  A LOT of TV.  So why not work to make quality content for them to watch?  Why not make TV educational?

Now it's all about apps, and I think the same principal are using apps, so let's make sure they're using good ones.  As parents and educators, the amount of apps on the market can be overwhelming.  App development is exploding, and with so many apps to choose from, it's nice to have a little guidance.   One of my favorite websites for kids' app coverage is Moms with Apps.  They are a group of parents who strive to develop quality apps for children -- and on App Fridays they offer a free or discounted kids' app.  If you're looking for book apps, my friends at Electric Eggplant told me about Digital Storytime, which is a good review site for kids' book apps.

There are a bunch of other review sites, too.  Here are links to a few of them:
Common Sense Media
Kids iPhone App Review
Fun Educational Apps
Best Kids Apps

These sites will give you an idea of what's out there.  A lot of apps have a free or lite version that you can try before you buy.  Test them out for a few minutes before you buy the full version for your kids -- not only will it make you feel more comfortable knowing what they're playing, it will give you something to talk about with them!  Which apps are popular in your family?  Let us know!


  1. LIz, what a great article! I've forwarded it to several people already. And thanks for mentioning Electric Eggplant!

  2. Just discovered an awesome resource for parents/teachers of kids with special needs. Apps for Children with Special Needs is a website with videos of apps that are great for kids w/ special needs...the videos are pretty thorough and give you a good idea of what the app has to offer before you buy.

  3. I'm the reviewer/mom over at, and thank you for the nice mention.

    I think it's interesting to relate this back to Children's television. I'm finding that a lot of the same rules apply to the new digital apps - we want our kids to have balanced lives and when they do have screen time for it to be quality content.

    As for the most popular apps in my house? Well, my preschool age son just helped with a blog post of his top 10 book apps from the 100+ we've reviewed so far - :)


  4. Thanks, Carisa! I just read your post. There's nothing like letting kids be the judge! I'm looking forward to checking out the books on his list :)

  5. So true Liz! I see this every day. The iPhone is the new pacifier. Interestingly enough I will be attending a seminar on using the iPad/ iTouch as a procedural support tool at the Child Life conference in May. I will keep you updated!!

  6. I'm interested to see what they say! Let us know!