Want to give your little one an edge with technology, but worried about the consequences? Don't fear, the app industry is here!
Apparently, interactive apps have a more positive impact than TV shows, even for toddlers.
Kids who watch more than three hours of television (including videos or DVDs) had a higher chance of conduct and emotional problems by age 7, but kids who played age-appropriate video games and digital apps showed no signs of negative changes by the same age, according to the recently released Millenial Cohort Study.
That's good news for tablet-owning households. As of 2010, according to Nielson figures represented graphically by XO Learning, 70 percent of households that own a tablet let their kids use it on a regular basis.
If you want to help your child get ahead with the help of a few choice apps, start here.
All apps listed below work on Android operating systems, so you don't have to be tied to Apple to help your child get ahead. To get the most out of these apps, choose a tablet that's powerful but not overkill for a toddler's needs.
Tablets range from 7 to 11 inches and can be less than $200. You can even get Apple or Android tablets on payment plans from companies like T-Mobile if you're a well-qualified buyer. You'll get access to apps like these for your little one:
- Read Me Stories (free; available for Apple and Android devices): This toddler-friendly app features simple stories that are read aloud to your child. Purchase packages of related books, so your children learn and grow with the characters. As your child matures, turn off the sound to let it read for itself. This app, available from ReadMeStoriesApp.com, encourages a love of reading, along with building basic language skills. You can set the app to highlight each word as it's read aloud, helping your toddler learn to follow along.
- Gummies Playground (free; available for Apple and Android devices): This flexible math-teaching app grows with your child and features a preschool level curriculum-based learning system to help your toddler learn shapes and numbers in order to prepare for mathematics in school. Designed by educators to encourage kids to spend more time with the game, this app, available from the Google Play Store, will help your toddler learn to love math!
- i Learn With (free; available for Apple and Android devices): A suite of kids' educational games emphasizing foundational reading and math skills, the i Learn With series (available from the Google Play store) has earned a range of awards including Moms' Choice Awards 2012 Best in Family-Friendly Products, and Academics' Choice Awards Brain Toy Award.
- Starfall Apps (prices range from free to $2.99 depending on the app; available for Apple and Android devices): Starfall Education, LLC has a line of toddler-learning applications that will help grow with your child into kindergarten and beyond. Starfall offers an award winning phonics-based curriculum used by both homeschoolers and elementary/pre-K teachers, so it's to be expected that their educational apps are stellar.
So how to make the most out of your little one's screen time?
First, keep it reasonable. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time before the age of 1, and two hours per day or less for toddlers and children.
Second, choose powerful apps designed to aid learning over the fluff that's out there. The four apps listed above will give your child hours of safe, fun, affordable learning experience in the formative toddler years.