child apps

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Apps here, apps there, oodles of applications everywhere! Apps for children are not hard to find, but which ones really add value to a child’s learning and development? To find out, we referenced the top five consensus best apps for kids recommended by 15 experts.

Navigating kids and technology can be challenging. A recent survey of American parents finds that 58 percent believe the rise of technology makes parenting harder today than it was for their own folks. The majority of parents (68%) worry about how much they’re leaning on iPads or other devices, and 72 percent value electronics-free time with their child the most.

Balancing screen time with playdates and outdoor play may help offset harmful impacts. Research from Japan shows that daily living and socialization skills among young children are improved with time spent outdoors, and the negative effects of screen time can even be reduced by sending your kids outside to play. Certainly, screen time limits are needed, especially for toddlers whose brains are rapidly developing the skills necessary for lifelong functions.

Educational and learning apps make a good compromise. Another study finds that three-quarters of parents of kids ages three to seven use technology to help with their child’s learning and to aid in school-readiness. In fact, 71 percent of parents surveyed have already used a learning app to help their child, and 79 percent use technology to teach their kids something new. Many apps offer learning resources to get kids on the fast track to school success. StudyFinds has tracked down the top five best apps for kids, according to experts to help you get started! Let us know if we missed your child’s favorite in the comments below!

Children screen time: Toddlers on iPad or tablet
Babies playing on a tablet (Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash)

The List: Best Apps for Kids, According to Experts

1. Khan Academy Kids

Khan Academy Kids appears on most top app lists, and for good reason. It’s an all-around great option with plenty of educational activities for kids. Care.com raves, “This award-winning app offers thousands of free books, games and lessons to develop early childhood skills. There’s even music, dancing and yoga videos to help kids burn some energy.”

 “A cast of adorable animal characters will guide children through lessons, and our adaptive learning path will customize their experience to help them master different skills,” says Today’s Parent.

WFAA writes, “It is entirely free. It is extremely thoughtfully made with experts involved, and it has lots of literacy and STEM content for really little kids.”

2. ABCmouse

Another that appears on most lists is ABCmouse! “This pick is an overwhelming favorite among all of our testers. ABCmouse.com is available both as an app and a website. It uses fun storyline-based videos, quizzes, and activities — there’s even a virtual map outlining your child’s learning path to keep kids and toddlers engaged. Our parent testers said they loved ABCmouse.com even before we started testing the best apps for kids!” enthuses Good Housekeeping.

Verywell Family rates it among the best for kids, as well as toddlers, and says it’s great if you have multiple ages at home. “Do you have a gaggle of little ones? Add up to three siblings to your subscription for the same monthly fee. It’s easy to switch between users so all your kids can get in on the learning action. The content gets more difficult as your child enters school and progresses through the early elementary grades.”

ABCmouse has a special reward system, too! My eLearning World says, “ABCmouse offers a fun bonus that will make your kids love every bit of it. They will get a ticket reward on every completed lesson to purchase items for decorating their virtual classroom.”

3. ABC Kids

MomJunction touts this app’s help with kindergarten readiness: “Let’s begin with an app that has a simple function — teach your child how to write the letters of the alphabet. The ABC Kids application teaches your little one to write the alphabet and learn to pronounce them. The app is delightful with colorful pictures and fun phonic sounds that your kid will love. Get this app when your kid is going to kindergarten. It helps.”

 “ABC Kids also has no in-app purchases, no advertising, and it’s free to download. It’s one of the better kids apps for younger children,” adds Android Authority.

Visartech likes how it offers more than one way, from auditory to tactile and more, for a child to learn. “Educational games allow children to practice recognizing the shapes of letters by drawing them with their fingers along with the arrows on the screen, learning sounds, and doing many matching exercises.”

4. Toca Boca

Toca Boca creates a world of educational apps for kids that run the gamut from cooking in the kitchen to helping in a hospital, working with horses in a stable, building a world with blocks, styling in a hair salon and more. Choose your favorite or try them all!

Bark says, “If you’re looking for safe apps for kids, Toca Life World is a great choice. It’s not quite a game — it’s more of a vehicle for kids to use their imagination to create characters and bring environments to life. Almost everything in the game is customizable as you create settings, characters, clothes, and more. You can screen record it and add audio narration describing the world you’ve built from scratch, kind of like you’re directing a movie!”

GoldieBlox suggests Toca Builders for younger kids: “Toca Builder is a great app for younger kids who love to build but are not quite ready for Minecraft. This brand creates digital toys and everyday products that are filled with fun and silliness that kids can relate to. Taking rules, boundaries and the notion of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ out of the equation, the makers of Toca Builder just want you to play.”

ListsForAll likes Toca Kitchen 2: “Better than ever, Toca Kitchen 2 allows children to be creative in a virtual kitchen. They will be able to use all of the ingredients and tools in the kitchen to create their masterpieces. Creations can even be fed to characters (complete with reactions). So if you have a child that loves to be a pretend chef, this is the app for them.”

5. PBS Kids Games/Video

PBS Kids offers a Games app and a Video app, both of which appear on multiple expert-recommended lists. Try one or both for fun, age-appropriate entertainment!

The Educational App Store likes the Games app, touting its safety and educational benefits: “The app provides a safe, child-friendly playing experience for all ages. Kids can learn math, creativity, weather, sea creatures, patterns, shapes, painting, and tools, among other things. They can also practice strategy, build reading skills, and test out their theories. The app is meant to be dynamic, with new games being added, so the body of learning will grow over time.”

“PBS has created hundreds of games based on their popular children’s shows. The games for each show fit in with their learning theme. Learn math with Peg + Cat. Explore creature powers with the Kratt Brothers. Or go on a space adventure with the kids from Ready, Jet Go! If your child loves PBS shows, they’re going to love learning with their favorite characters,” adds Family Education.

And Parenting likes the Video version: “If your preschooler is going to watch a show, you’ll probably feel better if it’s a PBS show, and this app lets them watch clips of their favorites—’Curious George,’ ‘Super Why!,’ ‘The Cat and the Hat Knows a Lot About That’ and more—wherever there’s 3G or WiFi.”

Have another idea for a remarkable app? Let us know in the comments!

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About Lynne Riffenburgh

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