It hasn’t taken me long to figure out that many apps available are not entirely suitable or understandable to their target audience. Have you had this experience? This problem is one reason it’s important to understand something about apps being marketed to our children, and to be able to determine how useful and constructive they will be for a child.
I often have a look at free educational apps, and read about their features. I’ve also read their reviews, but I take that information with a grain of salt – especially if it is all positive without useful commenting on particular features. When I look over what is available at the App Store, not much is (well) designed for little girls. Most educational apps are either neutral (seems good) or are more appealing to little boys. Because app developers are highly likely to be male, they may understand boys play interests more than they understand little girls, and gender formation and identity.
This may seem like a detail of little import, but there are functions in children’s apps that help us understand whether female teachers and mothers’ wisdom are represented in games.
Games and activities receiving considerable attention tend to be learn-by-playing apps on digital devices, that improve and hold all children’s attention. Educators are taking note, establishing criteria and plans for integrating touch pad learning with traditional learning (“blended learning”).
Astonishingly enough, some developers seem to believe very young children can read questions generated by a game. Who thought that through? Or is it that, if you put two buttons there, interrupting the child’s activity, you have a 50/50 chance the child will tap one or the other? This is all the more reason to have a good look at the apps your child is spending time with outside of structured learning environments. You don’t want your child to be confused by poorly designed games, those not appropriately ranked for age.
As a parent, It’s natural to seek a product we can trust. Such an app ranks age-range realistically. An app likely to develop a loyal following will deliver what it promises, and not try every trick in the book to take advantage of curious kids, forcing innocents to become work-around artists.
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