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Smart Rules of Thumb for Children's App Use

Apps may seem like all fun and games, but there is an educational component to some of them. A PBS Kids study funded by the U.S. Department of Education found that kids ages 3 to 7 who played with an app called Martha Speaks (one of eight PBS Kids apps currently offered) improved their vocabulary by as much as 31 percent.

There are thousands of apps for children, and new ones pop up every day. You'll find options for your artsy child, your math wiz, and your little one who is learning the alphabet. Check out these 12 recommended apps for pre-schoolers and 12 free educational apps for a sampling.

Some other resources for children's app reviews include:

  • Commonsensemedia.org – This nonprofit site offers reviews and advice on age-appropriate apps for kids.
  • IEAR.org – This website for the nonprofit I Education Apps Review offers teacher and student reviews of educational apps.
  • BestKidsApps.com – This site provides descriptions and ratings for apps by age and category.
  • YouTube.com – You can search YouTube for video reviews of the apps you're interested in.

Test out the apps you're considering for your child to check that they're a match with his motor skills, the tasks seem challenging but doable, and the content seems engaging but not over-stimulating, scary, violent, or vulgar. Go over the app or game with your child to help him learn the goal, the strategy, and the rules.

Many apps are free, and some cost up to $10, but most are in the $1 to $5 range. Consider setting up an "app allowance" to limit how many your kids download per month so that they don't get too app happy.



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