Most children nowadays own a phone by the age of seven. Bill Gates, on the other hand, didn’t let his children have a cell phone before they were 14. One thing is certain; kids use digital technologies at an increasingly young age, and the immersive world of apps and videos can quickly become overwhelming for them.
Therefore, regardless of when your kids get their first mobile device, your parental guidance is essential. This is especially important when they are learning to use new apps or deciding what apps they want to try. For the latter, we’re offering some tips.
Most apps we suggest come with information about recommended age range and availability on Android/iOS. It’s always good to double-check that the app is suitable for your child, so that the activities it offers are neither too simple nor too complex for them.
Here are five categories which offer everything from computer coding to reading and creating art.
1. Exploring Art
Some apps for kids offer a great way of learning about art and how to create it. You will find apps for young filmmakers or photographers, and there are some great easy-to-use options for those who’d like to try composing music too. We recommend:
Family Fun with Arts & Culture
This family section of Google's extensive online visual art gallery can be explored for hours on end. Getting around may be a little trickier for children, but this allows for an opportunity to explore the world of art with them.
Incredibox - For the whole family (Android/iOS/web)
An amazing app and a website where kids can easily create beatbox songs. It features simple and intuitive controls with a fun design. Composing their very first track doesn't have to be complicated at all.
2. Basics of Coding
Understanding the basics of programming is becoming essential. Not only will it teach your children skills like problem-solving and logical thinking, it will help them build resilience. Knowing how to code will also allow them to become more competent users of digital technologies and have a deeper understanding of the software and apps they will use on daily basis. It can also open many doors for them career-wise. With coding apps for kids, designed to teach them the basic principles while playing games, learning to code can also be fun.
Hopscotch- For kids ages 10–16 (iOS)
An award-winning coding platform where users can both play games and design their own.
ScratchJr - For kids ages 5–7 (Android/iOS/web)
Children can create interactive stories and games to learn the basics of programming.
3. Creative Games
Kids are naturally creative. They enjoy inventing new things or taking a creative approach to solving problems. Creativity is key to the healthy development of their personality and success in future life, which is why it pays off to practice it. With the help of mobile applications, they can immerse themselves in new worlds, try logic games and design all kinds of things.
Toca Blocks - For kids aged 9–12 (Android/iOS/Kindle Fire)
An original game with colorful graphics, in which children create their own worlds made with cubes. They can wander through their creations with one of the cute characters, and the newly created worlds can be both shared online and combined with friends.
Kawaii Home Design - For kids aged 4+ (Android/iOS)
Intuitive app in which kids can design the interior of their dreams.
For those who love learning, working on their mathematical or logical thinking, and exploring new territories, there are many quality apps to choose from.
Khan Academy Kids - For kids aged 2–7 (Android/iOS/Amazon)
This app from a non-profit education organization offers games that support children's education. Bonus: It doesn’t contain any ads or subscriptions.
Prodigy - For grades 1–8 (Web)
In this platform that connects in-class learning with at-home math practice, kids can battle foes and rescue pets by answering math questions. They can build a team with personalized characters and learn to cooperate in solving problems. Unlike other apps, this one is web-based.
5. Reading, Video & Relaxation
When your kid wants to just chill out, watch a video or listen to an audiobook, there is an app for that. They need to learn to relax after an eventful day, appreciate a good book, or even catch up with the latest trends on the kids’ version of YouTube. However, you should set clear boundaries for them to know how much video is too much, so that they don’t develop a tendency to binge-watch.
YouTube Kids - For kids aged 4+ (Android/iOS)
The kids’ version of the original platform features videos suitable for children, with an interface so simple that even the smallest ones can control it. All you have to do is set up an account for your child as a parent and type in the child's age.
Magic Fluids - For kids aged 4+ (Android/iOS)
A playful application in which children mix differently colored liquids to create enchanting combinations of shapes and colors.
Epic! - For kids aged 4–12 (Android/iOS)
An e-book library with over 35,000 children's books and a read-to-me feature for the little ones not yet old enough to read. Ideal for when you want to allow your kid to have some quality screen time. Good for kids of various ages.
5 Security Tips for Downloading Kids’ Apps
Use official app stores
Approach applications from unofficial app stores with caution. For maximum device security, preferably download apps only from Google Play or App Store. Unofficial app stores and forums can be misused by attackers to spread malware.
Check app reviews
Always read the reviews posted by other users. Pay special attention to all negative reviews – a bad app will probably have many positive reviews created by the attackers themselves. Do other users refer to the app as fake, malware, or a virus? If so, postpone the installation and do a simple online search first. The app may have already been tagged as unsafe.
Review app permissions
Every app provides information about the data and features it needs to access for full functionality. Suspicious apps often request access to features completely unrelated to their purpose. An image viewer app requesting access to the microphone? This can suggest an attempt to stalk the user.
Regularly update apps and OS
Developers constantly find new flaws and vulnerabilities in apps – and issue regular updates to fix them. In settings, you can set up automatic device updates. Alternatively, choose to get notified when updates are available and install them manually.
Double-check the developer’s name
Even the official app stores can be infiltrated by malicious actors or malware. Often, they simply aim to increase the trustworthiness of their app by choosing a misleading name. You can come across fake versions of popular apps, or developer account names that pretend to show the number of user downloads. So, beware.