If you’re looking into giving your kids a smartphone or tablet to keep them occupied, entertained or even educated, then there are lots of ways to make their time with the device really worthwhile. There are a wealth of educational apps on the marketplace. It can help children expand their imagination and enjoy the process at the same time.
A mother and her kids bonding using a tablet
One of the example is The Room , a game about opening a series of safes. It may not sound that interesting, but it becomes more so when you consider that each locked container is unlocked by completing numerous puzzles set into its surface. Sliding up the covering on one of the legs of a container unveils a key, which then unlocks a panel, which may show cogs, or a panel you can see through with a special tool. It’s a fascinating, gripping game that will get them to think, quite literally, outside the box.
There are of course a wide variety of apps that children can access that aren’t video games. Apple has a really wonderful series of iBooks, so if you’ve got an iPad to hand in addition to your iPhone 5c, then you can offer them e-literature that can contain all sorts of interactive elements for them to play with. Think of them as next-gen pop-up books – all the fun of engaging with the written word, but with interactive elements that help bring their experience to life outside their imagination.
Sustaining their imagination is important, and handing them a device containing many creative apps will most likely help them develop fresh ideas. Sketching, painting, putting shapes together – apps can offer a variety of creative pursuits for the little artist in your home, and if you can export the output, those efforts can still live on the fridge should you so wish.
Additionally, you can also use your mobile devices for videos, although control is always important. YouTube is an open video platform, which means children may be exposed to content that isn’t age-suitable. Netflix, however, can be tuned to offer solely children-friendly content, which is a good way of ensuring that they can watch new shows that will inspire and educate them without risking running into anything untoward. Being able to hand your device to your child and not worry about them seeing something they shouldn't is a big deal, so Netflix has knocked it out of the park with a simple option.
Vitally, though, try and avoid apps that are designed to wring money out of the user, or in your case, the user’s parents. Apps where energy bars and timers can be removed temporarily for a small fee can snowball into a colossal expenditure for a very short period of time. These “free-to-play” games are rarely anything near free if you want to really enjoy them, and teaching your children to walk away from exploitative games like this is not only good for their entertainment experience, but also educational in the way they view the value of both purchases and money in general. So parents, hand over your smartphone or tablet and relax. They’re learning.