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Making the Most of Educational Apps in 2018

Opening any app marketplace and navigating to the kids section can be confusing nowadays! You’ll tend to find the biggest brands near the top, with some indie apps (like ours!) popping up. But there are thousands to choose from, whether you’re looking for a brand you recognise or a specific genre. Perhaps in 2017 you found your child using one too many games that didn’t seem to hold much value, or you just want to broaden your horizons? Here are our tips for getting the most educational and useful value from your apps this year…

Astro Cat's Solar System app and books
The Astro Cat apps (Solar System and Galactic Genius) can be paired up with the Astro Cat books and our activity sheets (see below) for a rounded learning experience!

Make some media resolutions

Start generally, with some ground rules on usage, sharing, and family time. Common Sense Media has a great list of ‘media resolutions’ you can set to ensure that you understand which media your child is using, and whether they are benefitting (and how you can help kids to build a good relationship with the internet, social media, and gaming). There are also some great ideas on how to collaborate with your kids on games or videos, to get more out of them as a family.

Keep an eye on what they’re downloading

Although with older children (particularly when they have their own device), it can be difficult to keep an eye on their choices, it’s useful to check in at least once a month. See what new apps they’re using, and how they’re using them. Maybe they’re enthusiastic about social apps, sending messages and sharing photos with their friends. Or, perhaps they use their device to escape, and focus on single-player gaming. Both of these media types can have educational benefits, for example encouraging social skills, or training memory or logic. The key points are communication and making sure any parental controls necessary are activated.

Make use of educational app resources

If you’re really keen on getting the kids into apps that are inherently practical, and teach real lessons, a quick Google will bring up lots of resources for finding the right ones. Both major and indie developers who make educational games can have their apps tested and indexed by online services like the Educational App Store.  These services often have practising teachers available to review apps from an educator’s point of view – so you know you can trust the content to be useful. We had Astro Cat’s Solar System reviewed here!

Test new skills in the real world

So, you’ve done your research and downloaded a well-reviewed educational app. The kids use it to fill time while waiting, travelling and so on. But what about when screen time is over? If you’ve introduced set times for screens as outlined in Common Sense Media and the AAP’s guidelines, the kids might still want to engage more with what they’ve learned afterwards. That’s when you can look to the developers themselves – many offer information packs or off-screen activities to boost learning. You can find activity sheets to accompany Astro Cat’s Solar System here, and Artie’s Magic Pencil here.

2018 has arrived – another step into our tech-fuelled future… We hope these suggestions help you map out your kids’ media this year (and make sure to check out the amazing resources we’ve linked throughout this article). Happy New Year!

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