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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Technology is changing at a rapid pace and our kids are being introduced to using laptops, smartphones and tablets at an even earlier age. Although many parents are reluctant to allow their pre-school children to use their iPad, there are lots of apps out there which are designed specifically for small children to help develop literacy, numeracy and speech skills. Finding the good apps in amongst all the mediocre apps can be tricky though, so here are a few strategies to help.

In-Game Purchases
We’ve all read the stories in the press about a small child who downloads an app and then unwittingly runs up a massive bill on their parent’s credit card by buying coins to use in that game. There are two main ways to deal with this issue. Firstly, never link your tablet or phone to any credit card or password protect it so that any purchase made has to be approved by you. Secondly, read reviews before downloading any app as many of those which have requests for in game purchases will have negative reviews. It may be worth paying a little more for an advert free version of an app as the free versions often have many pop up adds enticing children to click.

Stick to Names You Know
If you are unsure about what sort of apps are best or safe for your children, start your search by looking for names or characters your child is familiar with such as Fireman Sam, Bob the Builder, Disney or Peppa Pig. Most major toy brands and children’s broadcasters have their own apps, most of which can be downloaded free or very cheaply. Always download apps from a reputable site like iTunes or Android Marketplace and check you are downloading the genuine app rather than a cheap app which is just ripping off the brand name.

Assess Child Friendliness
Even with apps aimed specifically at children, some of the games can encourage actions such as tapping rapidly on the screen or tipping the tablet side to side. Even if children think they are being careful there is the possibility that your iPad is going to get broken or dropped. It is possible to replace an iPad screen but it is best to avoid this where possible by going for apps which don’t require any sudden movements. Also explain to your child that if they are careless and you have to replace the iPad screen, they won’t be able to play on it at all while it gets fixed.

Drawing and Colouring In
Kids love colouring in and even the smallest child will soon get the hang of tapping the screen and then the crayon or paint icon to create their own artwork. There are a huge number of differently themed colouring apps on the market and it is worth paying a little extra for the versions which offer more functions or are free from adverts. Some apps will also let you link to a printer and print out the coloured pictures to display at home.

The beauty of looking at a book on a tablet or smartphone is that many of the apps include sound, interactive features, animation and activities to complete after reading the story. A good story book app will cost around £2, which compares very favourably to the cost of buying a new book. Again start by looking for books by authors you are familiar with such as Dr Seuss, or featuring your child’s favourite characters. Having a storybook app on your tablet is the perfect thing to keep a child entertained during a long journey or while waiting for an appointment.

Author Bio:
Jann Webb is a writer who believes that introducing your child to your iPad to learn from its apps can be a positive thing. However, children can break them so be aware that you might need to Replace iPad Screen covers or features on yours at some point.

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