How to Choose the Best Apps for Your Kids

From the NY TImes post:

“Educational tech is still a new field, but parents don’t have to be lost when their kids come asking them to install something new.”

Few parents have the time to assess every app their child wants to download on these criteria, but they can follow some general guidelines. After skimming an app’s ratings and searching for reviews and forum discussions, consider these tips:

Who made the app?

Trust the Experts

Does the app have advertising or in-app purchases?

Does the app protect your child’s privacy?

Does the app seem right for your child in particular?

Does the app do something only an app can do?

Balance, balance, balance: everything in moderation

You can’t beat ’em, so join ’em


YouTube Revamps Its Kids App

Looks like Google has responded swiftly to the article from Sunday’s NY Times highlighted yesterday in Tablettoddlers.

From the MediaPost article: Google’s YouTube has released an updated version of YouTube Kids, a version of the video app that features age-appropriate content and more restricted advertising.

The revamped app allows users to create multiple profiles for their kids. The profiles will also change as the child ages, with younger users seeing more pictures and less text, while older users get more content on the homescreen.

The new profiles will work across all devices that have the app.

Kids will also be able to set their own passcode for their profile to keep their siblings out, though parents will be able to override it. Parents will also be able to select and tailor programming for their kids when they first set up the profiles in the app.

Apple Offers Free App to Teach Children Coding

It’s happening, folks.  From the NY Times article:

Apple plans to release a free coding education app on Tuesday that it developed with middle-school students in mind, in the latest salvo among technology companies to gain share in the education market and to nurture early product loyalty among children.

Apple’s app, called Swift Playgrounds, introduces basic computer programming concepts, like sequencing logic, by asking students to use word commands to move cartoon avatars through a fanciful, animated world. Unlike some children’s apps, which employ drag-and-drop blocks to teach coding, the Apple program uses Swift, a professional programming language that the company introduced in 2014.

Maybe It’s Time to Give Pokemon Go a Try

Tablettoddlers initially rolled our eyes at the Pokemon Go craze a few weeks ago and gave it a dismissive shrug.  After reading friend Jason Boog’s post, we may reconsider.  Here’s a sample of what the whip-smart Boog said:

“I loved playing the popular app with my almost 6-year-old daughter. The game turns your real life neighborhood into a digital map filled with creatures to discover. We walked around our neighborhood, photographed digital creatures in the bushes, captured Pokémon and met other kids playing the game. Best of all, we shared my smartphone for a couple hours–a truly rare experience.”

We especially liked his advice on how to supplement the app with a good old-fashioned book:

“Instead of criticizing kids for obsessing over apps like Pokémon Go, we should find books that compliment these digital experiences. I ordered our family a copy of Scholastic’s Pokémon Deluxe Essential Handbook. This colorful reference book gives kids a way to explore the Pokémon universe WITHOUT a device.”

Sounds like there’s no downside to at least giving it a try, considering how Pokemon-crazy Tablettoddlers’ nine and six year old are.  Will report back.


Parents Following Their Kids to Snapchat

Is coolness done for Snapchat? That’s what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had to admit in 2013 as teens fled his social media platform for the Venice upstart once their parents started to join. Now Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel may have to face the same reality, as his ephemeral messaging app is growing in popularity among older demographics.

According to a recent comScore report, the percentage of Snapchatters among smartphone users age 25 and up has multiplied by seven in the past three years. Some 38 percent of older millennial smartphone users age 25-34 use the app, and 14 percent of those 35 and older do, up from 5 percent and 2 percent three years ago.


10 Children’s Apps for Summer Road Trips

From this timely post in the NY Times:

“The car is packed, the pets have sitters and the GPS is programmed. But have you properly prepped your children’s devices?  While there are many apps that can keep a child busy, the best are those designed to promote active, engaged, meaningful and social learning, researchers say. 

The NY Times details some recent apps for the job. Most work without a Wi-Fi tether, are free or very affordable and are rich in bite-size bits of interaction, making them easy to pass around the car. Platform and price information change frequently, so check your favorite app store for the latest information.

New Apps Teach Kids about Their Health

Boston University Alum creates smartphone games that help kids manage their asthma, allergies. (ED not: Tablettoddlers teaches Communications at BU).

Check out this post for more.

“Asthma—a chronic disease that causes wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing—affects approximately one in 10 kids in the United States, and that number is on the rise. The disease is the number one cause of pediatric emergency room visits in the country, and children with asthma missed more than 10 million days of school last year. But a 2008 study found that fewer than half of American adults and children with asthma were taught how to avoid triggers for the disease, underscoring the need for better education.

Now, Boston-based app development company Wizdy, cofounded by Nikita Virani (Questrom’14), has created a game for iPhones and Androids called Wizdy Pets that secretly educates kids about how to manage their asthma symptoms, as well as how to identify the warning signs of an impending attack. Virani and her team just completed a semester fine-tuning the app at Harvard University’s iLab.”