Five apps for your toddler

26 March 2014

Kids start playing with tablets and phones as soon as their fingers can find the way to the screen. Many SuperMoms have wondered if it’s okay for their young children to play with tablets or phones. Here’s some expert advice and five educational apps to try.

Kids start playing with tablets and phones as soon as their fingers can find the way to the screen. Many SuperMoms have wondered if it’s okay for their young children to play with tablets or phones. “As long as your child is busy with educational content there’s no difference between a tablet and a book,” says Anel Annandale, an educational psychologist of Cape Town. Apps help with hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. Anel’s advice is to choose apps that teach your children something “but test them before entrusting your child with them,” she says.

Nighty Night 2-3 years

Every farm animal’s sleeping spot has a light that children can switch off one at a time when they say good night. It’s a good way for children who are afraid of the dark to calm themselves.

R39 in the Google Play store (Android) and R29,99 in the iTunes App Store (iOS).

Seasons by cleverkiddo 4-5 years

This app, developed by South Africans, is for the iPhone and iPad, and teaches preschool children numbers, shapes and jigsaw puzzles. Children are rewarded with stars, and cute graphics encourage them to complete activities. For younger children you can switch on a narrator’s voice that will lead them through the app.

R15,99 in the iTunes App Store.

123s ABCs Handwriting Fun 4-5 years

Give your child an advantage with this app, which teaches children to write from an early age. Let them practise capital and small letters, numbers from 0-9 and shapes on the screen. Thanks to a built-in voice children can hear how the letters and numbers are pronounced.

Free in the Google Play store.

Paper Dolls 2-3 and 4-5 years

Teach your children to dress themselves with this app based on fairytales by Hans Christian Andersen. Children can select their favourite characters’ clothes and accessories on the touch screen and dress the character as they please.

Free in the iTunes App Store.

Three Little Pigs 2-3 and 4-5 years

See this well-known fairytale take on new life. Your tablet is a doll’s cupboard and a series of screens are the background against which the story is played out. Your children can move the characters around for each scene and swipe the screen to jump from the straw house at the beginning to the brick house at the end. It also has a built in “camera” your children can use to “photograph” each scene.

Free in the iTunes App Store and the Google Play store.

Don’t overdo it

As with watching TV, there should be rules about the use of tablets and phones, says Anel. She says parents should also familiarise their children with books. Here are her guidelines for screen time:

  • Children younger than six: Limit it to 30 minutes a day.
  • Children from six to nine: Up to 60 minutes a day is acceptable.

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