The best boredom-busting apps for kids

23 December 2016

So you don't have to hear, "Mom, Dad . . . are we there yet?"

"Mom, Dad . . . are we there yet?" Going on a long-distance road trip with kids can be a nightmare. With all the whingeing, whining and backseat bickering going on, it can often feel as if the journey is never going to end. Fortunately, if you have a smartphone or tablet, there are some cool free apps that can banish boredom and keep your little ones entertained for hours on end. Give these a try.


It’s not as scary as it sounds. What this cute app does is encourage kids to be creative. They get to draw a monster in three parts then mash the pieces together to see what kind of silly creation they’ve come up with. For drawing process they have access to an array of shapes, colours and crazy accessories such as googly eyes, shoes, moustaches and scary teeth. The app is designed for one to three players and the best part is it’s free – there are no external links, in-app purchases or third-party apps. So you can focus on the trip while your kids remain entertained without racking up a huge bill or draining your cellphone data. Compatibility: Android, iOS


Put that time in the car to good use. With Duolingo your kids can have fun while learning a new language such as French, German, Portuguese or Spanish.

Using this educational app, your kids will get to work through exercises or activities at their own pace. Users can also speak some of the phrases into the microphone of the phone or tablet. As they progress, more levels become unlocked. They’ll also earn points for correct answers, which can then be used to unlock other fun activities. With no in-app ads, the only downside to Duolingo is that it could become addictive! Compatibility: Android, iOS


This app challenges kids to take on the role of mayor and build a bustling city. The impressive 3D-style graphics add a degree of hyper-realism to the project. Kids can pinch-zoom and rotate 360 degrees as they build their metropolis.

The better the player gets, the more exclusive buildings are unlocked. Of course, the larger the city becomes the more complex the needs of its citizens become. But don’t stress; this is a great opportunity for your child to experiment with trading resources, completing boat orders and shipping cargo from the airport.

They also get to expand the city along the beach. Feeling creative? With this fun app you can even release natural or unnatural disasters such as UFOs. Although SimCity BuildIt offers in-app purchases, you can easily disable the feature in settings. This is a great option for kids who are seven and older. Compatibility: Android, iOS


If your child is a fan of car-racing games, they’ll definitely enjoy this one. Created by the developer that made Real Racing 3, Need For Speed was designed specifically for cellphones.

With this app your children will be able to build their dream car using an impressive range of models and customisations. And then they can start racing. The more races they win, the more features are unlocked. Although free, this app offers in-app purchases. Be sure to disable this feature in the phone’s settings to avoid a nasty surprise when you receive your credit card bill. Compatibility: Android, iOS


You’ve packed so much into your car, there’s no room for colouring-in books and felt-tip pens – and maybe that’s a good thing because you know the kids will inevitably get ink on the upholstery. And besides, if you have the Coloring Pages For Kids app loaded on your Android device your kids can look forward to hours of creative fun. This app provides hundreds of pictures your kids can colour in using a virtual paintbrush or pencil. There’s even an eraser and an array of colourful stickers that kids can use to beautify their artistic creations. Once your children have completed their masterpiece it can be saved to a gallery from where it can be printed, sent via email or shared with friends via Facebook. Compatibility: Android, iOS


This fun app will keep the family enthralled for hours. Create a selfie video by lipsynching to a wide range of audio clips from movies, songs, vines (looping short videos on social media app Vine) and other sources. If you don’t fancy any of the recordings, simply upload your own and get dubbing! The app also has cool filters and text animations to add to videos, which can then be shared online. The only setback is you need an internet connection to browse through the audio clips. Compatibility: Android, iOS


If your kids are Star Wars fans, they’ll love this app. In this free game, players can collect most of the stars of the Star Wars saga, including the less popular characters. Once they’ve assembled their dream team they can send them into battle. But before they do, they can equip their champion, whether its Darth Vader or Leia Organa, with heavy-duty gear that will come in handy during combat. Great for older kids, this app also features vehicles and other props from the original Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Compatibility: Android, iPhone


You’ve probably seen this puzzle game on Facebook. It’s easy and fun to play, making it ideal for kids and adults. In the app users have to create special candies by matching delicious- looking sweets in a particular formation. You can either play this game alone or, if you’re feeling competitive, with friends to see who can get the highest score. It does offer in-app purchases, so be sure to turn off this feature in your device settings.

Compatibility: Android, iPhone

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