Finding good kids apps and ensuring e-safety
As a parent or grandparent you may have noticed that if you put a child in the same room as an iPad, an iPhone or similar device, they will instinctively reach for it. They will then proceed to amaze us by somehow knowing what to do with it! It’s amazing what they learn by simply watching us. However, those of us responsible for young children are often wary about allowing our children to use tablets because we are all too aware of the potential pitfalls associated with e-safety and too much screen time. The good news is that apps designed specifically for kids can turn your tablet into a fantastic learning tool, an entertainment system or the world’s biggest encyclopaedia, whilst giving you peace of mind that the content of the app is age appropriate. There are literally thousands of them, many of which are available for both iOS and Android devices. With the right apps, mobile devices can do a great job of educating and entertaining your offspring safely. The question is, how do you ensure your child’s safety when using your tablet and how do you know which apps to choose? This article aims to assist in enabling you and your family to get the most out of your tablet.
Let’s begin with sourcing kids apps for Apple products such as iPad Pro, iPad Mini and iPad Air 2
All apps for Apple products are obtained from the App Store on your particular device. The first thing to say about the iPad apps for kids is that every game has an age rating so that you can tell whether it is right for your child. Secondly, with access to the App Store there are plenty of child-friendly apps, games and ebooks to buy and download. There are many free apps available for the iPad and even the most expensive ones are rarely more than a few pounds, so you don’t have to break the bank to provide your kids with a range of age appropriate material for their entertainment or education.
And e-safety for these devices…
For Apple iPads and iPhones running iOS 7 or later, parents can enable parental restrictions because Apple has built parental controls into their devices. This allows you to limit searching only to websites that you choose or to seeing kids’ apps only. Web content filtering is not available on older versions of iOS, web surfing on these devices can only be limited by disabling the Safari browser which then makes the web completely inaccessible.
Now let’s look at Android devices
Apps for your Android device can be obtained from Google Play Store. As with the Apple (iOS) products, there are thousands of free or inexpensive, child-friendly apps, games and ebooks available.
Although Android devices don’t have specified parental controls built in, those using tablets (not phones) running Android 4.3 or newer can accomplish the same thing by creating a secondary restricted profile and deciding which apps can be accessed by that user. Then, to prevent your child from switching profiles, you will need to have a screen lock set for your main profile.
Any Android device can be made safer for children by using Google Play restrictions. They allow you to set the maturity level of the apps you want them to see, as well as set a PIN code for purchases.
There are other apps that you can install as well to make your Android device a safer place for your children. Kids Place is an app launcher with parental controls and child lock. It prevents children from downloading new apps, making in-app purchases, phone calls, texting or anything else that might cost you money via your tablet and using any apps that have not been pre-authorised by the parental control. It is appropriate for children of all ages from babies to teenagers and also features a timer to allow you to limit your child’s screen time.
So let’s actually look at a few examples of the sort of apps that are
available for kids
Apps for kids cover everything from pre-speech Sing and Sign for babies, to GCSE revision aid. Below is just a taster of the thousands of apps available for their education and entertainment.
YouTube Kids app from Google (Free and available for iOS and Android)
This is the official YouTube app for kids. It is designed around simple, child-friendly navigation and allows them to discover suitable videos, channels and playlists. The four categories available with this app are shows, music, learning and Explore. The app includes features that allow parents to tailor the YouTube experience to your family’s needs. Search fields can be restricted and timers can be set for limiting your child’s YouTube experience and screen time.
Minecraft:- Story Mode (Free)
This games series is based on Minecraft world builder but is an episodic adventure tale rather than world builder. The game involves the playing taking the role of Jesse (gender of the character can be set by you). Jesse is on a quest with her friends to find The Order of the Stone. In-game puzzles make up some of the gameplay but most of it is about the choices that you make for your character determining the story’s path.
Me (£2.49, for iOS only)
This is a fantastic scrapbook app for children. It allows them to create a virtual version of themselves, friends or pets and then add characteristics about them, wishes and dreams etc in order to tell their story in a scrapbook style. The app even features a multiuser system so that different children can use the same app without deleting the scrapbooks created by their siblings or friends.
GivingTales – Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales (Free and available for iOS and Android)
If you have kids you’ll love this wonderful storybook app. It features short, modern versions of well-loved Hans Christian Anderson tales. The stories are beautifully illustrated and narrated by celebrities such as Ewan McGregor, Michael Caine, Sir Roger Moore and Joanna Lumley.
Crayola Colour Studio HD (Free, available for iOS only)
A free app that turns any iPad into a colouring book/pad. Great for those times when your little ones need some “quiet entertainment” without the need to carry colouring books and pens.
EduGuru Maths (Free taster or £1.99 for full version, available for iOS and Android)
EduGuru Maths is aimed at pre-school and reception/year 1 pupils. Each game is made up of levels that are unlocked when the previous level is completed. Cute animated animals, rockets and friendly characters test the early mathematical skills and concepts such as counting, number recognition and ordering, plus addition and subtraction in the Meadows Maths game. The app also covers shapes, patterns, sequences, coins and values, doubling, halving, sharing, size, weight, distance and position. Captain Clock even introduces telling the time.
Blackboard Madness (Free, available for iOS only)
Blackboard Madness is for those wanting a bit more of a challenge. Itis a set of fast-paced, quick-fire maths challenges, taking in addition, subtraction, division, multiplications, algebra, and > (more than) and < (less than) questions.
This app works your child’s mental maths skills, logical thinking and reaction. To kung-fu sound effects you have to slash the correct answers before they drop off the blackboard. To keep the kids motivated, there are high scores, badges to work towards and player statistics to track performance.
Finally, a couple more top tips when sharing your device with the kids
- Prevent in-app purchases – Before installing any apps for kids it is recommended that you turn off in-app purchases if you have an iOS device or disable in-app purchases in Android. The apps are good value but in-app purchases can soon rack up.
- Protect your tablet – Invest in a good kid-proof cover for your particular device, it will prevent damage to your tablet when the inevitable happens!
If you would like to find out what Smartphones and Tablets we provide through our Schemes, visit our Benefits Page or contact us on 0330 2000 231 – we would be very happy to provide you with more information and answer any questions you may have.