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Tech for the Holidays Part 2: Choosing Apps for Kids

December 30, 2014

Now that presents are unwrapped, here comes the big question: what to do with the tech gifts in your household?  Just like any tool, to get the most out of technology, you have to know how to use it.  To help, we’ve compiled a roundup of some of the best lists and guides for selecting educational apps and games for your children.  

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop provides some great examples in their Family Time with Apps report, including using apps to read with your child (reading at least 15 minutes a day helps preschoolers build their vocabularies and prepare for school), or using games or apps to prepare young children for new experiences that might otherwise be scary. 

For many parents, one of the biggest challenges with new technology is identifying the right apps or games to download on a new device.  The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) offers tips and guidelines from Warren Buckleitner of the Children’s Technology Review on how to choose apps for young children — including looking for games that are easy for children to control, that can be individualized for each child, or that have multiple language or sound options.

Even if you know what to look for, iTunes and Google Play both offer thousands of apps for kids, so it can be hard to know where to start.  Luckily, there are several groups working to help parents find great apps that build creativity, support learning, and offer ways for families to play together and connect to one another.  Moms with Apps was founded by — you guessed it — moms to help other parents choose the best apps for their children.  Parents can sort for apps that work without Internet, apps that don’t allow in-app purchases, or that have no advertising, in addition to sorting by age range, subject, and device.  The Parents Choice Award judges apps on their content, design, educational value, and long-term play value to determine winners, and is another great place to find ideas. 

There are also numerous “top ten” or “best of” lists for parents-- offers the 30+ Best iPhone Apps for Kids, while Parents Magazine highlights the Best Educational Apps for Kids, including classics from Dr. Seuss and the Magic School Bus.  USA Today provides their Top 10 Apps of 2014 for kids, TIME highlights the Top 25 iPad Apps for Kids, and Britain’s The Guardian offers the 30 best Android Apps for Kids in 2014.  Meanwhile, Mashable has pulled together 6 Essential Apps for Connected Families. Happy searching!