I used to pride myself on how much I knew about kids apps. With both my children having had access to iPads from an early age, I downloaded many different apps, and we enjoyed exploring and playing together. I believe having access to educational apps as toddlers and pre-schoolers helped my children develop their literacy and numeracy skills significantly (just check out this video of a very young geekson learning to count with Tally Tots):
Recently, however, I’ve noticed a change. All around me I see people asking for recommendations for apps for school-aged kids, and I struggle to make any. Because my kids simply don’t use many apps these days.
They still use their iPads a lot. But whereas when they were younger they would have jumped from app to app, never spending long with each one but trying a huge variety, these days they are more selective, but spend longer with their chosen apps.
For both of them, the single most popular app they use is YouTube Kids. The geekdaughter loves watching videos of other kids doing gymnastics, or making vending machines out of old cardboard boxes, or winning tickets at the arcades. The geekson is currently Minecraft obsessed, and his YouTube Kids history is full of the latest Stampy Cat or DanTDM videos.
As far as the geekdaughter is concerned, the only other app she uses is Google Play Music. We have a family subscription to this service, which allows us to store and stream music to any of our devices, and she loves finding songs to dance or do gymnastics along to. Recently her school put on a production of “The Lion King”, and she was often to be found singing along to the soundtrack album. The original cast recording of Matilda gets played a lot as well.
The only other app the geekson plays is his beloved Minecraft Pocket Edition. So after having watched videos of how to craft particular items, he then goes in to the game and makes them himself. This is one of the good things I have noticed with YouTube Kids, for both my children the videos they watch inspire them to try things themselves – for the geekson it’s Minecraft, for the geekdaughter it is “real life” crafting.
Every now and again they do discover other apps. Minion Rush gave them a lot of happy play time, and more recently they’ve both enjoyed slither.io, although it doesn’t run well on older iPads. But on the whole they’ve become pretty set in their ways, app-wise.
So now I find myself, a former app expert, struggling to provide recommendations to friends as their kids grow older. And I wonder if my kids are unusual, or if this is simply the next stage in our kids’ tech usage.
What about you? What apps do your school aged kids use regularly?