How to Choose the Safest Educational Mobile Apps for your Kids
Technology has been well into our lives for a long time now. While there is a lot of concern regarding the negative effects of using mobile apps on our little ones, the important benefits some educational apps have to offer should not be disregarded. So, in an online world where everything could be dangerous, how can a parent be sure that the educational mobile apps their kids are playing with are safe? Although you may feel powerless before the miracle of mobile technology, there are more things you can do to get it all under control than you could imagine.
Before downloading an app
Take advantage of the info provided at the online store
First of all, make sure that the app is suitable for your kid’s age. Every developer at the online app store has to define a certain age group for which each one of their apps is suitable, so look for that field. Ensuring that an app has been designed for kids at the same age as yours, means that your kid will not be exposed to content that is unsuitable for their age, but also that the app will fall into their interests (for instance, an app designed for younger children may seem boring to your kid, whereas another aimed at older ones may be too difficult).
Then go on to have a look at the screenshots provided by the developer. These will give you some insight on the content of the app without even downloading it. Is there any content you would not like your child to be exposed to? Does the app seem well-designed and aimed at kids? Does it seem to help kids learn something new or is it just a game to spend their time?
Reading the description provided by the developer will help you better understand the app’s features. The more detailed the description, the more trustworthy the developer, because it proves that they have dedicated enough time to design and present their app in the best way.
Don’t forget to check the content rating in the respective field! Many of us may not pay attention to it, but it can provide useful information for an app, since each rating corresponds to specific features of an app that may or may not be suitable for your kid. By checking the content rating, you can discover whether the app contains sounds that may frighten your little one or whether there is any form of violence etc. You can get a hint of what each rating means here.
“Permissions” is another field you should check, since it contains valuable information regarding the data the app asks to be provided access to. As a general rule, apps should only ask for access to data that are necessary for them to function. For instance, it is completely acceptable for an app used to edit photos to ask for permission to access your phone camera. On the other hand, an educational app that aims at teaching the alphabet to kids should not ask for such a permission.
Listen to what others have to say! Read the reviews the app has received by other users and pay specific attention to the negative ones. What problems have other kids and their parents encountered while using this app? Does it offer everything it has promised? Does it provide regular updates to solve possible problems and provide new features? Does it crash often?
Make a research on the internet
First of all, check the developer’s website. Who are the people developing apps for your kid? Are they experienced in the field the app is said to educate your kid? This is the characteristic that makes educational mobile apps different from other apps: they claim to provide knowledge on a specific field. So, the team developing such apps, should also have an educational background to support the educational character they claim to have.
Look for any reviews or articles that may have been written for this app and for the developers in general. What do experts have to say? Do they consider the developers team to be trustworthy? Do they recommend using their apps?
As soon as the app is installed
Before letting your kid play with the app, check it out yourself. Spend some time to see what the app is about. Will it be easy for your kid to handle? Will it attract their attention and help them learn?
Another feature that many educational mobile apps should have is Parental Control. This feature prevents your kid from accessing the app’s settings, thus ensuring that they will not make a purchase (in case the app includes in-app purchases). It also makes sure that even if the kid clicks on a link (in case the app includes links to the developer’s website, for example), they will not be transferred to any website without your permission.
Are there any ads in the app? Although this may sometimes be disturbing, it is a way for developers who offer their apps for free to get some income. In case the app does contain ads, make sure that their content is safe for kids. Needless to say, if you see any gambling or sexual ads, you should delete the app and leave a comment to let the developer’s and the other parents know.
And now … let’s learn!
After checking all the above, you can feel safe to present the app to your kids. While it would be really enjoyable for your kids to let them discover the app’s features themselves, it would be better if you spent some time with them while doing so. Interacting with your kids while using educational mobile apps will provide you the opportunity to solve any queries they may have, as well as have a control over the time they spend in front of a screen. Not to mention that spending time together will strengthen your relationship!
All in all, educational mobile apps can be a great way to introduce your kids to the world of knowledge and can serve as a family experience, especially if they are well-designed.