Life Lessons: Choosing the right apps for kids

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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 tips for making the right picks for your children.

“Here you have these platforms that are dying for content and the kids are virtually addicted to,” 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 says.

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 such as 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.

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

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

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