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Connected: Digital Literacy for Gen Z

Dr. Julie Wood

Julie M. Wood, a former public school teacher and reading specialist, is a nationally recognized educational consultant with a special interest in digital learning tools. Join Julie in 2012 as she shares best practices in using educational technology and media in the classroom and at home.

Is it the good turtle soup or merely the mock? Choosing the best apps for your child

October 10, 2012

Which are the real, worthwhile apps, and which are the mock, to borrow from Cole Porter? With so many titles, how is a busy parent or teacher to know?

Although many apps for cell phones and tablets are advertised as having educational value, is that just marketing hype? Or is it true? Are they educational?

A quick visit to the iTunes App Store can be an eye-opener for any parent. Eighty percent of the apps featured on the site are designed for children and adolescents. Within this category, 58% of the apps are targeted for young children (see the report for these findings and more about iLearn II published by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center. And the market is growing as I type!

Fortunately, help is on the way. Many thoughtful media experts have weighed in on the good turtle soup, so to speak, when it comes to apps for iPhone and Android devices.

  • Common Sense Media
    Come to this nonprofit site to find not just informed app reviews, but also advice about children and movies ("Finding Nemo 3D" and more); books ("Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs," for example); learning games; TV shows; and YouTube videos. You might also be interested in their report on "Writing Apps and Websites," which includes "iDiary for Kids," designed for 7-year-olds.
  • Children's Technology Review
    Come here to find reviews of a variety of children's media, including top educational websites. Click on "Top 5 Apps Your Kids Will Love" by a veteran kindergarten teacher, Chris Crowell.
  • BestKidsApps
    With the motto, "We play all the iPhone, iPad, and Android apps so you don't have to," this website sorts apps into: age ranges, bestsellers, and educational. See what the mom-bloggers have to say about Cartooning for Toddlers ("Cartoon ABC"), playing with words ("Word Wizard"), learning Spanish verbs ("Conjugation Nation Spanish") and much more.

But downloading high-quality apps for your child is just the beginning. The real magic that no app can replicate is the experience of sitting down with your child and exploring the game or activity together. By sharing the fun, you enrich the value of the app experience tenfold, whether reading an iBook or playing an alphabet game. Try it.What children's apps have YOU found to be most worthwhile? How have you INTERACTED with your child? What NEW WORDS OR CONCEPTS have you learned together? Write back and let us know!

Comments

Great ideas! My 7-year old actually found Common Sense Media for us, and uses it to create "proposals" when he wants to add shows & sites to his "OK to watch" list. He teaches us what he's learned about cyber safety, and knows a balanced argument with data wins almost every time (in our living room, anyway).

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