Apps for Kids: Helping Children Embrace Reading in the Digital Age

mebiz, tech, & social media

I can still remember the first book I read. It was a story by Hans Christian Andersen and I felt such delight and excitement that I was able to read it all by myself! With the arrival of my daughter, it has been such a joy to get back into reading children’s books. We spend hours at our local bookshop and library, and look through all the beautiful books. But my daughter is living in a time of social media and technology that I couldn’t even fathom years ago. To see these changes is exciting, but as parents, we want to make wise choices when it comes using this technology.

This past month at the Tools of Change Bologna conference, there was a sellout crowd of 250, from over 27 countries to talk about how books are moving into a digital world. I found it interesting that studies have shown 34 percent of four and five year olds in the UK are able to open a browser, with only 14 percent of them who are able to tie their shoelaces. I know my own daughter was able to start using my iPhone when she was only two years old. I can’t say I learned it quite as quick!

This technology has been a nice addition to the learning tools that I use with my daughter. We are able to use the iPhone together and play games, read a story, practice counting, addition or even write our own storybook. The choices are endless. As parents, it is just our job to search out the quality apps on the market. So how are we choosing the best apps for our children? According to a study done by Mom Central Consulting, 39 percent of us rely on review blogs and websites, 17 percent rely on friends, and 12 percent rely on their children’s suggestions.

These devices are so child-friendly that if I need a break, my daughter is able to use this technology easily. Apparently, I am not alone. According to Mom Central Consulting, 74 percent of Moms let their children regularly play with their phone, while another 14 percent do so but only rarely. Education (50 percent) comes in only second to games (73 percent) as the most popular categories among Moms according to the same study by Mom Central Consulting.

As a parent, it is my goal to find apps that will further her education. Out of the more than thousands of apps on the market, there are many that will help our children learn how to read, entice their creativity, compose music, and improve their math skills – there are endless learning opportunities. I like a quote that Michelle Rulmont used in her article called: Teaching Technology: The iPad’s Best Educational Apps by Chicago-based educator Marva Collins:

“Once children learn to how to learn, nothing is going to narrow their mind. The essence of teaching is to make learning contagious, to have one idea to spark another.”

Our children literally have at their fingertips, a technology that helps them learn about so many interesting subjects. Along with good parenting and teachers, this can be another tool to help our children learn – and have fun at the same time.

Do you allow your child to play with your iPhone or iPad? Why or why not? If you do, what apps do you have on your phone that are child-friendly? Do the apps tend to be games or are they education-based? Why do you think it's important to embrace the digital age when it comes to bringing up your child?

Melissa Northway is a mom, writer of children’s picture books, and just came out with a new storybook app called “Penelope the Purple Pirate.” Her tomboy was the inspiration to write about a girl who likes to have adventures with her friends, and at the same time teach little ones the importance of treating others with kindness and respect. “Penelope the Purple Pirate” was chosen as a Top 10 Must-Have eBook by lilsugar of popsugar.com. She is working on her next story featuring Penelope in the Wild West. You can read more about Penelope and Melissa at: www.melissanorthway.com.

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Jen Tilley

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